Crusader Community Boating is a new charity with a 20+ year history!
Inspired by the success of a similar scheme on the River Trent in Nottinghamshire the Chairman of The St John Council in Northamptonshire, James Mackaness Esq, coordinated a fundraising campaign to build the area's first fully functional boat catering for people with special needs. Countess Mountbatten of Burma launched ‘The Mountbatten Crusader’, in the autumn 1994. It was capable of carrying up to 29 passengers three crew - a unique gift to the people of Northamptonshire.
Trips began in spring 1995 from Becket’s Park Northampton, which soon became popular with local groups and increasingly with many much further afield.
The overwhelming demand for cruises on Mountbatten led to a second, larger boat being commissioned in 2001, and ‘The Northamptonshire Crusader’, was launched at Billing Mill in 2002 by The Baroness Emerton.
In 2011 St John Ambulance began a nationwide process of restructuring and decided to decommission the Crusader project and the fate of the boats was in the balance; however, the David Laing Foundation recognised the value of the service provided and offered support to ensure the continuation of our service.
During 2015, Crusader Community Boats was registered with the Charity Commission as a charity in its own right. Mountbatten Crusader underwent a refit and was transferred into the new charity at the end of 2015. The second boat was not transferred into the new charity as it was not felt we could justify and fund the high running costs nor the costs involved in refurbishing the boat to ensure it continued to provide a reliable and comfortable experience for our passengers.
So, from 2016 we began a new chapter in the story of the Crusader project in Northamptonshire as, for the first time in our history, we are wholly responsible for finding our own funding and are very grateful for any support.