I'm proud to be the patron of the Ethel trust. In 1989 I came to see the renovation work being carried out on the old Humber barge, Ethel. That was in the early days of the project. Since that time the Trust has acquired through the generosity of many benefactors, large and small, and the dedication of all involved, a new purpose built barge, also named Ethel, specifically designed for use by the handicapped and disadvantaged of Sheffield and South Yorkshire.
I look upon the trips from four points of view. The first is obvious: all who come are almost miraculously helped to a richer and more rewarding way of life. A barge, properly fitted out creates an environment for the handicapped and those with special needs which is both safe and challenging.
More surprisingly, here is a wonderfully creative and healing effect: there is hardly anyone who is not the better for being involved in such waterborne activities. Many are handicapped - physically or mentally, or living the life that has started to go terribly wrong.
My third reason for thinking a project like this is important is geographical and environmental. The River Don and the Don Navigation have played an important part of the history of Sheffield and South Yorkshire. Yet today they are neglected and forgotten. The more people who use these waterways the better.
The fourth reason is that my Grandmother, who was born at Broughton Hall, Skipton, and married my Grandfather, Lord Beaumont in 1893, and so lived at Carlton Towers near Selby, was called Ethel.
No-one ever regrets supporting the Ethel Trust.
The Duke Of Norfolk, Arundel Castle, BN18 9AB