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The Friends of Dolphin

About Us

Dolphin was conceived as a special project by the Rotary Club of Parkstone in 1979 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Rotary International. The aim was to provide a specially equipped sturdy, safe boat to give free pleasure trips to disabled persons of all ages and disabilities in Poole Harbour, one of the largest natural harbours in the world. With volunteers recruited, funds were gradually raised, and a large amount of equipment donated or provided at discount together with much help from Rotork Marine, ‘Dolphin I’ was launched on the date of Rotary’s 75th Anniversary, 23rd February 1980, and made its first trip on 1st August 1980.

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The Friends of Dolphin, a Charitable Trust, was formed by the Rotarians with directors representing Rotary, D.A.D., Scouts with special needs, Soroptomists, Rotaract, Lions and Round Table, and the boat with funds were transferred to it on 21st August 1982.  Everyone associated with Dolphin is a volunteer, and all monies and donations go directly to the running of Dolphin. In 1990, ‘Dolphin II’ was purchased, and remained in service up to 2002. Our 10,000th passenger was carried in 1993, and in August 2001 our 20,000th was welcomed on board, both milestones being marked with a presentation by the Mayor of Poole of the time. On 18th July 2007, the Mayor of Poole made a presentation to our 30,000th disabled passenger aboard Dolphin III at the Haven Marina, Poole.

There was a lack of suitable facilities for disabled persons on normal pleasure craft in Poole Harbour and both Dolphins I & II were ideally suited for embarking disabled passengers with their bow ramps, initially from the slipway at Baiter Park, and then for many years thanks to the kindness and co-operation of the Royal Marines from their base at Hamworthy.

Thanks both to the local Fisherman Association of Poole and the Poole Harbour Commissioners a berth in the new Fisherman’s Haven was made available to us. This provided us with a great opportunity to make significant improvements in the comfort and safety of our passengers, together with the facility of being able to board direct from the pontoon at the Marina.   The Directors decided on a boat designed and built by Cheetah Marine, and an appeal was launched in January 2002. Our appeal target was reached and our new ‘Dolphin III’, a new boat for a new era, went in to service in August 2002. In 2003, her first full season of operations, she was a great success, and continues to be so. We now have a new Dolphin III, with much improved facilities, continuing to give trips to disabled individuals and groups.

                                      Bob Irwin

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