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We're excited to announce that ASTO member Challenge Wales has scooped the international award of ‘Sail Training Organisation of the Year’ at the Sail Training International conference in Antwerp.

Challenge Wales, which operates the Sail Training vessels Challenge Wales | Wales Tall Ship and Adventure Wales won the award due to the work it has done during 2019 with hundreds of disadvantaged young people, helping them to develop their employability skills. The Charity is only the third UK recipient of the Award since the awards started in 2007.

The predominantly-run volunteer charity provides social and personal development training for those aged 12 – 25 years and has worked with homeless/risk of homeless young people as well as young carers, those in the care system, young people with learning difficulties, LGBTQ groups, college and school pupils and those who are financially disadvantaged through unemployment or lack of opportunities. The charity has also developed Agored Cymru accredited learning, undertaken onboard, giving young people something tangible for their CV.

Paul Bishop, Head of Race Directorate at Sail Training International said: “This has been a great year for Challenge Wales and they have been an inspiration to all of us involved in Sail Training. They have worked with hundreds of young people from diverse backgrounds, offering unique and inclusive sail training programmes. Challenge Wales made a terrific contribution to The Tall Ships Races and a real difference to the young people who participated, encouraging international friendship and cultural understanding. Challenge Wales engages in remarkable youth development, which demonstrates innovation, best practice and delivering excellence – which is why they are so deserving of the Sail Training Organisation of the Year Award.”

Trustee of Challenge Wales, Vicky Williams said: “Winning this award, in our tenth year of operating, is an amazing accolade to our volunteers, supporters and team. We’ve had some amazing results getting young people back into employment, volunteering or education and through independent evaluation our sail training programme has been evidenced to show that it has a positive impact on young people’s mental health and wellbeing as well as developing their life skills. Sail Training is a great leveller and challenges the individual. Our programme also adapts with us and this year we raised awareness of sustainability and one-use plastic issues and its impact on the ocean. It is great that our work is being recognised within the industry and at an international level.”

Challenge Wales has an exciting sail training programme planned for 2020 that young people and groups can be part of, with bursary funding available to support many young people aged 12 – 25 years.

(Story from Business Link East Midlands)

A relay-style sailing adventure around the UK coastline will begin on 30 August as part of an initiative to improve youth development, social mobility and life expectancy in Newark and Sherwood.

YMCA Newark & Sherwood has joined forces with Tall Ships Youth Trust to host 80 community members in a bid to raise money for its £13m Community and Activity Village to be based in Newark, Nottinghamshire.

The voyage will comprise eight legs with a different crew for each, made up of 80 local community members of Newark and Sherwood. They will include school children, scouts, CEOs as well as Not Employed, in Education or Training (NEET) individuals. They will get the full experience – eating and sleeping onboard and learning to sail – for between four and eight days straight. Individuals on the ship will also be vlogging the voyage as it happens and celebrating with other local YMCAs as each new crew navigates the waves in different cities.

Richard Leaman-Grey, CEO of Tall Ships Youth Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working with YMCA on this exciting project. The trip offers people from all backgrounds who represent the Newark and Sherwood community the opportunity to set sail on the adventure of a lifetime, while raising money to make a difference for their community. We play a crucial role in giving these youngsters the right support to believe in themselves, to get jobs, and lead fulfilled lives.”

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On the afternoon of Friday 26 July 2019, the Island Trust were honoured to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to Plymouth Yacht Haven marina to celebrate the addition of Johanna Lucretia to their small fleet of youth sail training boats. HRH The Princess Royal is President of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and Patron of the RYA Foundation.

Her Royal Highness was accompanied by the Deputy Lieutenant of Devon, Rear Admiral Chris Snow CBE DL, and upon arrival he presented Her Royal Highness to the High Sheriff of Devon Captain Simon Martin; the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Plymouth, Councillor Richard Ball and Mrs Dianne Ball; Mr Leon Ward of the Royal Yachting Association; Chief Executive of Plymouth City Council Mrs Tracey Lee; and Mr Dick Lloyd, founding Trustee of The Island Trust. Dick Lloyd then introduced his fellow Trustees.

Her Royal Highness was escorted by Dick Lloyd to the pontoon to meet operations manager Tom Walker and Ocean Discoverability project manager John Hepburn. Tom invited Her Royal Highness to board each of the boats, all three looking stunning dressed overall, where she met the team of skippers and mates, and the young trainees who had just returned from a week’s sailing. Her Royal Highness spent time talking to the crews, and was interested in everyone and everything.

Afterwards, Her Royal Highness attended a reception at The Bridge bar and restaurant, overlooking the marina, where she met guests and was invited by Simon Dobson, Chairman of the Trustees, to unveil a plaque to welcome Johanna Lucretia to the fleet. Emily from Cann Bridge School presented Her Royal Highness with a posy, and Adrie and Jeremy Burnett gave a book on the yacht designs of their late son, Ed Burnett. The book contains details of the design of Pegasus by him as well as the Gloriana, which Ed helped design as the Queen’s rowbarge for the celebration of the The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Ed was also one of the 18 rowers on board when it led the Jubilee Parade down the Thames. Both Adrie and Jeremy are keen sailors and have owned a chandlery business in Falmouth.
Dick Lloyd, founding Trustee said “In the forty six years since my wife Judy and I started this charity we have introduced thousands of young people to the benefits, enjoyment and adventure of sailing, which is an ideal platform for improving confidence and motivation. Funding our work is always a challenge but we firmly believe that our young sailors are worth the investment and we are grateful for the support of our donors. This visit recognises the importance of our work with the next generation of young sailors and custodians of the sea. It was a truly incredible afternoon and perfect weather for such an occasion”.

ASTO's chairman James Stevens was delighted to be present at the event, and ASTO wishes the Island Trust many more years of successful Sail Training.

50 young people from all over Ireland head off on a ten-day voyage in August aboard three Tall Ships, the Pelican of London, Maybe and Brian Boru. The participants were offered the amazing opportunity to become trainees on a tall ship to experience an exciting voyage leaving Dublin on the 13th August, visiting Wales and finishing up in Cork on the 23rd August. This opportunity was made possible by funding support from the Government of Ireland through the Department of Defence, Dublin City Council and Dublin Port Company.

This is the inaugural Asgard Armada Sail Training Voyage. The project will see twenty-eight 15-17-year olds and twenty-two 18-30-year-olds from all backgrounds and abilities becoming trainee crew members aboard the ships. Skills such as communication, leadership, confidence and teamwork are all developed when onboard a sail training vessel. A key aim is to see a percentage of trainees progressing onto mentoring roles, new employment and other training opportunities.

Trainees were selected by nominating organisations currently working with young people throughout the country, such as the HSE, Cork Life Centre, Educational Training Boards, Manor St John Youth Services, Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed, Foroige, Peter McVerry Trust, Youth Reach, Scouts and Girl Guides.

“We are delighted that this project involves the three ships sailing in convoy, which adds to the adventure for trainees. It is fantastic to provide this opportunity to young people who may not otherwise have had a chance like this” Daragh Sheridan, CEO of Sail Training Ireland. 2 of the ships, Pelican and Maybe, are UK Sail Training vessels and members of the ASTO fleet. The voyage is named after previous Irish Sail Training vessel Asgard II. 

Lewis Haig OYT PressLewis Haig RYA Yachtmaster of the Year 2018

(edited from the RYA press release)

Young Scotsman, Lewis Haig, has been named as the recipient of the RYA Yachtmaster™ of the Year award 2018, for his exceptional demonstration of sailing skills during his RYA Yachtmaster™ certificate of competence exam.

19-year-old, Lewis was presented with the prestigious trophy by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, President of the RYA, earlier today (Tuesday 16 July), at the Royal Institute of Navigation, AGM and Annual Meeting, in London.

Speaking after the presentation, Lewis commented: “I still can’t believe it, considering that just two years ago my knowledge of boats and sailing was practically nothing. To have been chosen as RYA Yachtmaster™ of the Year is absolutely incredible and a huge honour. I never anticipated achieving something like this.”

RYA Director of Training and Qualifications, Richard Falk, said: “This is an outstanding achievement and one Lewis should be very proud of. There were more than 3,000 people who undertook the exam for the RYA Yachtmaster™ certificate of competence last year - the calibre was extremely high - but Lewis’ remarkable skills, knowledge and enthusiasm shone through.”

The first time Lewis set foot on a boat was through a school trip with ASTO member Ocean Youth Trust Scotland. It sparked a love of sailing and a long-term career path that he never saw coming. Lewis continued sailing with OYT, volunteering and eventually going on to gain a place on their cadet training programme in 2017. He then worked his way up through the RYA Yachtmaster™ scheme, achieving his RYA Day Skipper and RYA Coastal Skipper qualifications, before sitting his exam for RYA Yachtmaster™ Sail in October 2018.

Lewis was able to complete his training courses with funding from the Trinity House bursary. He was also selected to take part in the International Exchange in 2018, sailing for two weeks on board the Australian Tall Ship Young Endeavour. Both the bursary and the exchange are administered by ASTO. 

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