As residents of the county of Derbyshire, which is further from the sea than any other in the UK, the members of the Bakewell and District Probus Club were given a taste of seafaring and sailing by club member, Peter Donaldson, at a recent meeting. In particular, Peter described the history and the philosophy of an organisation, the Jubilee Sailing Trust, of which he has had some personal experience. To quote from its own website (www.jst.org.uk), this is a charity that changes lives through inclusion and exploration on board tall ships. And the way that it does this is by promoting the integration of disabled people with able-bodied people through the challenge and adventure of tall ship sailing.
The speaker opened his talk by giving a brief history of the organisation from its beginnings in 1978 (using a grant from the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Appeal), through a period of expansion when it operated two ships, then through the difficulties presented during the Covid pandemic, to the present day when, although now reduced to a single vessel ‘Tenacious’, it continues with its original objectives.
He then described the ships themselves and the way that voyages are organised around a professional ‘permanent’ crew (of a dozen members) who are in charge of a succession of fare-paying members of the public whose job is to provide the muscle-power and other tasks necessary to ‘work’ the ship. The latter crew members (between 40 and 50 on any voyage – usually of a week’s duration) are a mix of disabled and able-bodied people, ranging in age from teenagers to pensioners.
Having taken part in half a dozen voyages, the speaker was able to draw on his own experiences in saying that, far from luxurious in terms of accommodation and, at times, hard work (often in the middle of the night) these voyages had been hugely enjoyable and memorable.
Details of the Bakewell and District Probus Club, including reports of earlier meetings, can be found on its website at www.bakewell probus.org