Trainees return from adventure of a lifetime

Kim Henderson, husband Ken and daughter Corinne.
Kim Henderson, husband Ken and daughter Corinne.

The Northumberland Navy of sail trainees has returned home following an epic journey for the race leg of The North Sea Tall Ships Regatta Blyth 2016.

Organisers put out a call in March for would-be sailors to take part in the event as a sail trainee on a Tall Ship, and 80 people, aged 15-63, were recruited.

The trainees joined their vessels at Blyth during the Regatta weekend – from August 26 to 29 – before setting sail to Gothenburg, Sweden, following the spectacular Parade of Sail to St Mary’s Island on Bank Holiday Monday.

Many of the trainees are from Northumberland and 33 were supported by Northumberland County Council ward councillors.

Many of the other participants have been supported by event sponsors including DFDS and IHC Engineering Business Limited. The event’s principal sponsor Fergusons of Blyth sponsored 14 trainees and the Northumberland Youth Service and Northumberland Sport sponsored 22.

One of the trainees was Kim Henderson, from Amble. She is a wheelchair user and sailed on the Lord Nelson, one of only two Tall Ships in the world designed and operated to be sailed by people of all physical abilities.

She said: “I was able to take part in everything. I’ve been up the mast myself, pulled myself up in a sling, been up on the bowsprit – there’s nothing that I haven’t taken part in.

“I’ve missed out on nothing and it was a wonderful experience.”

Eighteen vessels – representing 10 different flag states – competed in the race to Sweden. Trainees from 26 different nationalities took part. The countries represented included Lithuania; Turkey; Spain; Netherlands; USA; Sultanate of Oman; Russia; Israel; Australia, and China.