Wednesday 30 August 2017

"My dream has become a reality"

Tony Emmaus Sheffield

“Owning a canal boat has been a pipe dream of mine for years, but thanks to Emmaus it is now a reality” Tony, a companion at Emmaus Sheffield explains.

It’s taken five years for Tony to see his boat proudly moored on the canal side next to the Emmaus Sheffield community. “I was living at Emmaus Bristol when I first started the project. When I bought the boat it was damaged quite badly and was ripped along the bottom, but I was really excited by the opportunity to restore it.”

Tony had initially planned to leave the Bristol community and move back home to Devon where he would restore the boat. Sadly, things didn’t work out the way Tony had planned and so he chose to move and join Emmaus Sheffield due to their perfect location overlooking the canal.

“I’d been at Emmaus Sheffield for a couple of months when Graham, the Community Leader, suggested I bring the boat up to Sheffield. The community even offered to convert a semi-derelict part of the community building into a workshop which would allow me to restore it.”

“I’ve always had a passion for boats and I’d say I’ve spent the majority of my life either working on the sea or living by the coast. My first job was a qualified canoe instructor and as part of that I used to build and sell canoes.”

Tony spent the next three years restoring the boat at the community, learning new skills along the way, which he has really enjoyed. “There were challenges with the boat, and didn’t always know what I was doing, but I have I try to have positive attitude towards challenges. I believe that if you want something that is honourable, then you try and do it and you’ll succeed in the end.”

Thanks to support from the community and the Companion Training Fund Tony was able to finish the restoration earlier this year before successfully launching the boat in July. “My plan for the future is to live on the canal in the boat full time. You can’t just put a boat on the canal, I needed insurance, an inspection, and a license – Emmaus Sheffield and Emmaus UK supported me with all of this and I’m really grateful for their support. I’ve not only learnt new skills I’ve also been given the chance to make my dream a reality.”

Speaking at the boat launch in July, Charley Fedorenko, Deputy Community Leader at Emmaus Sheffield said: “The Companion Training Fund has enabled a number of our companions to achieve things that would have otherwise been impossible. It has meant some of our companions have acquired qualifications leading to employment, they have been able to afford equipment such as musical instruments so they can fill their free time with something constructive and enjoyable, and Tony has been able to partly fund building himself a home which is just incredible.”