Today’s meeting started at 1030 a.m. with Richard Wright continuing in the chair. Five apologies had been offered prior to the meeting. Chairman Richard advised members about online motor insurance quotes and how his wife’s incredible driving skills had saved him £30 on his annual quote!!

Under “Initial Notices” Secretary Neil Ramshaw informed the assembly of the proposed Harrogate Forum trip to Nostell Priory (cost £20 transport; admission £12 for non National Trust members) on Friday April 17th with a list for those interested to annotate.

Our Speaker this morning was our own member Michael Williams whose topic was the “Tall Ships Youth Trust”. Mike started by sharing his own sailing experiences which started as a teenager in the North West and the importance of actually being taught to sail. In 2006 he retired from H.M.R.C. and extended his sailing interests by starting to do “delivery trips” of boats to new owners. He joined the Tall Ships Youth Trust as a volunteer mate and explained a case study to the audience of a troubled youngster of the type that the Trust would endeavour to benefit.

The origins of the Tall Ships Youth Trust dates back to 1956 when it started life as the Sailing Training Association before morphing into its present day guise. It obtained the iconic schooners Sir Winston Churchill and the Malcolm Miller through public subscription. These vessels gave thirty years sterling service but the late 90’s saw them replaced by the Prince William and Stavros S. Niarchos, brigg-rigged tall ships. Running costs were heavy but corporate monies were much more available in those times. Challenger yachts were used in the B.T. Global Challenge races in 2000/01 and 2004/05 crewed with one professional sailor and fifteen adult paying amateurs. The Tall Ships Trust bought four of the challenger yachts. Mike showed some videos which highlighted the vessels in action under extreme conditions but which displayed their excellence as training boats, the amount of job creation they gave and the volume of tasks needed to be undertaken. Youngsters in the age range 12-15 and 16-25 were able to enjoy and experience lots of different tasks developing their own individual personal skills and vital teamworking bonds. Skills included sailing, cooking and cleaning–all very necessary when on board and then being able to achieve “Competency Crew” with certificates issued to all participants detailing their achievements. The Trust then acquired a sailing ketch which was less strenuous to operate and allowed the involvement of children with slight disabilities as the environment was more comfortable. The Tall Ship Ketch was gifted by Bolton School.

The Trust helps children with difficulties or adverse life styles to turn their situations around and Mike shared some anecdotes to illustrate this and stressed how rewarding it had been for him to be involved with.

Questions were taken at the end from an engaged and interested gathering and the Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty two attendees was given by David Hopkinson.


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