Levington: TV star proud to help sailing charity

HE is well-known for his lifelong love of sailing and now TV star Griff Rhys Jones has given his support to a Suffolk charity that helps disabled people enjoy time on the water.

The comedian, author and presenter of such shows as Restoration, Mountain and Three Men in a Boat was at Levington Marina on Saturday to officially open the East Anglian Sailing Trust’s new Waterside Centre HQ.

The project to transform a redundant marina building into EAST’s new, modern centre was part-funded by a �50,000 grant from the Big Lottery after the charity successfully won the People’s Millions televised vote.

During his visit to the marina, Mr Rhys Jones, who had arrived on his 45ft classic yacht Undina, also opened the Suffolk Yacht Harbour’s new Harbour Centre building.

Speaking before he cut the ribbon at the entrance to EAST’s new base, he said he was honoured to have been invited to Levington to open two buildings in one day.

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He said: “It’s not often that, in a single day, I’m called upon to open two buildings. In fact I can honestly say I have never opened a building before - I have closed a few shows in my time though.

“I feel a little bit like a member of the aristocracy of the Royal Family who just turns up and says ‘well done everybody’.”

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Mr Rhys Jones described sailing as an “unutterable joy” and an “immense, life-enhancing” activity and he was pleased to be connected to an organisation that helped so many people to experience it.

Bill Smith, an EAST Trustee, said the charity had worked with nearly 1,000 people with a range of disabilities over the past decade and the fantastic new facilities would enable it to help even more.

He said: “We’ve needed it for a long time, because of the growth of the Trust. We now provide a programme for children and young people over the age of 10 to get afloat with EAST.”

The new Harbour Centre building, opened earlier in the day by Mr Rhys Jones, was built with environmentally-friendly materials and techniques and is carbon-neautral.

The opening marks 50 years since the idea of the Suffolk Yacht Harbour, now a 550 berth marina, was first put forward.

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