TWENTY Harwich youngsters set sail today (9 August), on a four-night adventure voyage from Harwich to Portsmouth, thanks to support from the Mayflower Legacy Fund set up by the town’s Mayor, Cllr Ivan Henderson and other Harwich-based organisations.
The young people, made up of 15 boys and five girls aged 12 to 15, were chosen to go on the trip from three organisations, Harwich Home Start, Teen Talk Harwich and Harwich and Dovercourt High School.
The young people and their four youth workers departed from Harwich’s Ha’Penny Pier onboard two 72ft Challenger yachts owned by Tall Ships Youth Trust (TSYT) — the UK’s oldest and largest youth development sail training charity.
The idea for the trip came from Cllr Henderson in preparation for his 2021 Mayoral Year and to mark the 400th anniversary sailing of the Mayflower from Harwich to Portsmouth. Due to delays and restrictions caused by the Covid pandemic his Mayoral Year has been extended for a further year to enable projects like this to come to fruition.
Cllr Henderson also set up the Mayflower Legacy Fund with Essex Community Foundation (ECF) to give long-term support to charities and voluntary groups in Harwich.
Cllr Henderson said: “I wanted the fund to have a link to the ongoing maritime history of Harwich and importantly, to build up over time and create a legacy that supports and benefits local people for years to come.
“As part of this, I’m delighted that we’ve been able to give 20 local young people a residential sailing opportunity, which otherwise they wouldn’t have had. The experience will be one of personal development and discovery for the young people and will stay with them forever, helping them to shape their lives positively.
“I am so grateful to everyone who has helped to turn this project into a reality and ensure the young people are prepared and have everything they need for their voyage. It really has been a combined effort and is only happening because of the generosity and contributions of all those involved.”
Onboard the Challenger yachts, which were built in 2000 and are famous for having sailed twice round the world as part of the Global Challenge Races, the young people will get involved in all aspects of sailing and crewing the boats. From start to finish they’ll be doing everything from steering to food preparation, maintenance and cleaning.
Importantly, they’ll be supported by TSYT’s professionally trained crew who work with young people to increase their practical life skills as well as develop their personal and social skills.
Chas Cowell, Youth Development and Volunteer Manager at TSYT, said: “We’re really excited to welcome the young people onboard especially after the setbacks caused by the pandemic, which have exacerbated some of the difficulties many were already facing and now need extra support for.
“We believe all young people should have the opportunity to take part in a transformational voyage with us. Thanks to the Mayflower Legacy Fund and the generosity of local organisations and businesses, this is a reality for these 20 young people.”
As well as the Mayflower Legacy Fund, the project is being supported by the Milsom Charitable Fund, the Minter Family Fund, Galloper Wind Farm, The Alma Inn and Harwich Haven Authority. In addition, Harwich Connexions, with support from ECF, is providing the transport to collect the young people from Portsmouth and bring them back to Harwich.
Paul Milsom, Managing Director at Milsom Hotels said: “Supporting young people and helping to build their skills and aspirations is at the heart of what we want our charitable fund with ECF to achieve.
“As a local business in Harwich, we were keen to be involved in this project from the start and combining our support with others for what I am sure will be an experience of a lifetime for those taking part.”
Sean Chenery, General Manager at Galloper Wind Farm added: “We are always looking at ways to get young people involved in maritime activities. This project is such a great opportunity, and we are pleased to provide each young person with a bag and accessories to help them navigate their way through their voyage.”
The Alma Inn in Harwich has provided the young people with sweatshirts. Nick May from The Alma Inn, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this project. Providing the young people with matching sweatshirts will hopefully help them to feel like a team from the start.”
Neil Glendinning, CEO at Harwich Haven Authority, added: “As a Trust Port, supporting our local communities along the Haven and in Harwich, is an intrinsic part of our work.
“We didn’t hesitate to be part of this project and are pleased to offer our professional expertise and technical support to Tall Ships Youth Trust to ensure their vessels are berthed safely.”
Caroline Taylor, CEO at ECF concluded that a lot of hard work has gone into making this project happen.
She said: “We have been pleased to work with our fundholders, helping them to meet their charitable wishes and ensure these young people have an adventure of a lifetime.
“The Mayflower Legacy Fund is a great way for local people and businesses to keep their giving local, either through donations or as part of a legacy, and support charities and voluntary groups in Harwich and Dovercourt year on year.”
For more information and to find out how you can support the Fund call ECF on 01245 355947 or visit: www.essexcommunityfoundation.org.uk
Supporters can make a donation via JustGiving or send a cheque made payable to Essex Community Foundation to 3 Hoffmanns Way, Chelmsford, CM1 1GU. Please note on the back of the cheque that you would like your donation to go to the ‘Mayflower Legacy Fund’.
Mayflower Legacy voyages in the news:
BBC Look East
ITV News Anglia