WIMBORNE charity Dreamboats has officially launched its new vessel – eight months after one of its original crafts was stolen.

The boat Wimborne Market, donated by market founder John George in 2000, has not been seen since two men rowed away in it last year.

However, the replacement Wimborne Market was launched by Mr George’s grandsons, Edward and Oliver, at the opening of the season on April 21.

Dreamboats’ chairman Pat Hymers said: “The theft happened on the last day of boating last summer, right at the end of August.

“A couple of blokes came along and hired the boat, perfectly legitimately. They paid their £12.50, rowed off and never came back.

“The boatman got worried and went out to try and find them, and when they couldn’t be traced he became alarmed and called the police.”

Fearing the worst, officers searched the area in the helicopter, but were unable to find any sign of the men.

Police eventually spoke to two men but no charges were ever brought because of a lack of evidence and the boat was never recovered.

Mrs Hymers said: “There was really very little anyone could do.

“It was absolutely maddening.”

An insurance payment of around £700 covered half the cost of the new vessel, with the charity fundraising enough to cover the rest.

“It’s good to have our boat replaced and our fleet back up to seven,” said Mrs Hymers.

“We asked John George to come along and launch the new boat, but he wasn’t available, so his two grandsons were able to come along instead.”

Dreamboats is open to customers every weekend and on school holidays until the end of September. For more information, visit dream-boats.org.uk