In the 1990s John Lockhart, whose son has Down’s Syndrome, had a boat built to take disabled and disadvantaged people on trips on the River Medway. The boat was named The Dawn Treader, and the scheme was called The Kingfisher Project and was run by John and a team of volunteers until the early 2000s when he decided to sell the boat.
It was felt the project was so beneficial to so many of its users, that in 2004 a group of volunteers created The Kingfisher Medway Trust and set about raising funds to buy a replacement boat. From small amounts raised locally, through village events and pub evenings, to larger sums provided by Rotary, Livery Companies and national funding agencies, within two years the Trust had raised sufficient funds. The new boat, named Kingfisher, was built in Faversham, Kent, and launched in June 2007.
In recent years, the maintenance costs for Kingfisher increased and her diesel engine and hydraulics system were beginning to show signs of their age and use. The Trustees thus decided to plan to replace her, and each year put aside some funds towards this goal.
It was agreed the design of the boat should reflect that of its predecessors, but it was also recognized, for the benefit of the environment, a future boat should be electrically powered. On this basis, Warwickshire-based boat builders, Colecraft, were identified as having built similar boats and were asked to provide a quote. Colecraft were very supportive, and after a great deal of information exchange, provided a final quote.
To the delight of the Trust, the Kent Mark Master Masons heard about the project and suggested it might be one they would be pleased to support, asking the Trust to make an application for funds. In September 2019 the Trustees were asked to attend a Zoom meeting to hear whether our application had been successful.
At the meeting the Provincial Grand Master, Archie Torrance, amazed and delighted everyone by informing us that the Mark Master Masons had decided to grant the full amount for the new boat! They then ran a competition to find a suitable name for the new boat and the final vote provided the name Kingfisher Mark, a very appropriate result.