Mike Aiken Why Tall Ships? I read avidly about the adventurous days of sail as a boy and have managed to sail, off and on, all my life, including in the Army ! I currently sail with friends whenever I can grab the time. Last week I sailed a mini passage from Corfu to Sicily. It is a great privilege to be a Trustee The Tall Ships Youth Trust and I identify strongly with its ethos and mission. Being on a sailing vessel with others is a unique personal exposure to the nitty gritty of being a good team member and as well as getting a close insight as to what it takes to be a good leader. What better organisation to belong to? Background I am fortunate to have had a testing and varied career which began a little unwillingly in accountancy. Feeling life was passing me by, at the age of 20, I joined the Army in The Parachute Regiment as a private soldier/potential officer. Out of 42 recruits ,15 got through induction training, but 2 were injured whilst parachute training, so we ended up as 13! As a potential Officer I was held in Airborne Forces Depot and became a small arms weapon training Instructor. I was subsequently commissioned into Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, joining them in Hong Kong as a Platoon Commander. Germany and the Cold War followed. Leaving the Army at almost 27, I entered the business world at a very junior level and over time was appointed to senior CEO positions in the Brewing, Retail, Shipping and Port Industries. I then decided to strike out on my own and acquired a well known Ferries and Ports Operator becoming the principle shareholder. Currently my involvement is mainly in the Charitable Sector, where apart from Tall Ships I am a Vice President of the Mary Rose Trust, Chairman of Rochester Cathedral Trust and President of The Blyskawica Society.