Quadriplegic adventurer completes circumnavigation of UK

Paralysed in a swimming accident in 1984, Geoff Holt has spent the last 40 years in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic.  Yet his adventurous spirit and determination for exploration has seen him achieve incredible feats.  In 2005 he sailed around the Isle of Wight. And in 2007 he became the first severely disabled person to sail single-handed around Great Britain. In 2010, he was the first quadriplegic to sail across the Atlantic Ocean unassisted. 

Record-breaking challenges

Now in 2024, Geoff has completed a record-breaking circumnavigation of the UK, with the goal of raising £1.2m for The Wetwheels foundation. It is a charity he set up in 2011 to enable disabled people to access the sea barrier-free in purpose-built, state-of-the-art motor boats. 

For over 20 years, Henri-Lloyd has supported quadriplegic adventurer Geoff Holt.  They have ensured he is kept safe, warm and comfortable when undertaking his record-breaking challenges.  

Geoff and his team were equipped with the latest technical fully waterproof clothing, warm mid and breathable base layers from Henri-Lloyd as they embarked on their expedition. They called at 17 accessible ports around the country including eight Wetwheels locations.  The entire journey took 26 days  and covered some 1,880 nautical miles. 

Biggest challenge to date

Geoff said: “This is possibly my biggest challenge to date. Having spent 40 years in a wheelchair, paralysed from the chest down, the sea has been my salvation. It offers me freedom and independence. When I am afloat, I can forget about my disability.

My biggest hope is we can inspire more disabled people to join us for an experience on Wetwheels. Hopefully this will also inspire people to raise money to achieve my dream of acquiring another four Wetwheels boats, making a total of 12 around the UK. 

Knut Frostad, Executive Chairman at Henri-Lloyd said he was incredibly proud to be supplying the essential offshore clothing required to enable Geoff and his team to complete the challenge.  “I know from my experience what it is like to spend many days and weeks at sea, when being warm, comfortable and ultimately safe is essential.  To be doing this when you live with physical disability and are unable to move makes having the right protective clothing is absolutely vital. 

Long relationship

Henri-Lloyd has enjoyed a very long relationship with Geoff and is proud to be part of his success. He is calling this his final disability adventure, raising vital funds for The Wet Wheels Foundation.”

Currently the Wetwheels Foundation, a registered charity whose patron is HRH The Princess Royal, has a fleet of eight vessels around the UK. It aims to add another four as a result of this challenge.  It offers unique opportunities for disabled and disadvantaged people of all ages. These include those with multiple, profound and complex impairments. They enable them to access the water in custom boats designed specifically for wheelchair access. Guests are active participants, rather than simply passengers. They get the opportunity to steer the vessel and learn seamanship alongside peers, friends and families.

Geoff Holt was awarded an MBE for Services to Sailing in 2010 and named ‘Yachtsman of the Year’ shortly after.  Along with being a patron and ambassador for several charities, he is also a renowned motivational speaker.  Alongside Henri-Lloyd, headline partners supporting this challenge included Stelios Philanthropic Foundation, RS Marine Group, Hugh James and Raymarine.