A Short History of Solent Dolphin
Solent Dolphin was conceived in 1987 by the New Forest Rotary Club for the purpose of taking people with disabilities on day trips out to sea.
The 12th December 1988 saw the infamous Clapham Rail Disaster in which a young girl, Alison MacGregor – the daughter of Jimmy and Muriel MacGregor - was killed. Later after attending a memorial service in Winchester Cathedral, the MacGregors happened to hear an appeal on the local radio for funds to build a boat for taking disabled people out to sea. Being keen sailors themselves, they responded with a large donation making this first boat a reality. She was called the M/V ALISON MacGREGOR (pictured left), and was launched in 1989 by Simon Weston CBE, who agreed to become the Patron of Solent Dolphin.
In 1997, with all the experience of the first boat, the Board of Directors decided to have built a new purpose designed boat – the second M/V ALISON MacGREGOR (pictured below). She was a Blyth 33 catamaran, built by Prout’s of Canvey Island with the deck adapted to take 6 wheel-chairs (a total of 12 passengers). She was named by our patron Simon Weston in May 1997 at the home port of Hythe Marina.
The popularity of the trips on the M/V ALISON MacGREGOR MK2 grew enormously. The boat went/goes out 2-3 times a day, 7 days a week during the season of 1st May to 30th September. Yearly more than 3000 passengers are taken out on about 300 trips. The boat is crewed and maintained by some 80 qualified and trained volunteers; no-one is paid.
The new M/V ALISON MacGREGOR MK3 (pictured below) came into service on 1st August 2012 and was named (again) by our patron Simon Weston on 8th September 2012 at a glorious day’s ceremony at Hythe Marina attended by hundreds of guests.
Solent Dolphin is a Registered Charity (No. 900604) with a Board of Directors and a Management. This latter committee organises and runs all aspects of the M/V ALISON MacGREGOR MK3's operations. There are 21 fully qualified Skippers, following the appointment of our first female Skipper in 2016, who undergo refresher training annually to ensure safe operation of the boat.
Solent Dolphin is financially totally self-supporting through all the generous donations from many (local) organisations and benefactors – in particular the Lions and Rotary Clubs. We are extremely grateful to Marina Developments Ltd who own and manage Hythe Marina for their marvellous support, providing free berthing and storage facilities.
Without this support we would not be able to continue giving the pleasure of trips to sea for those people with disabilities.