Voyage of Discovery…

Young people from Wigan set sail on a Tall Ships adventure of a lifetime

Explore. Dream. Discover…as Mark Twain once urged.

And that’s exactly what one group of young people from Wigan are doing after to ‘throwing off the bowlines’ and ‘catching the trade wind in their sails’.

The 11-strong crew, who are all members of the Wigan Council-backed B.yoU group, have swapped their home comforts for the high seas to take the Tall Ships Challenge.

The trip has been organised by the Tall Ships Youth Trust , one of the oldest sail training organisations in the UK.

Setting sail from Portsmouth on a 72ft world class racing yacht over the weekend, the Wigan team will be exploring the waters of the South Coast during the five day voyage. On the way they’ll be learning all about the joys of a life on the ocean waves through a series of team-building, character-boosting and confidence raising tasks. From climbing the spinnaker pole to scrubbing the decks, the young people all aged between 15 and 19 will be doing it all.

What makes the trip an extra special one is that the Wigan group will be making their own piece of nautical history by becoming the first ever from the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender (LGBT) community to take the challenge.

Setting sail to coincide with the national LGBT History Month celebrations, the team will be keep all us landlubbers abreast of their progress by a regular series of on-board blogs.

Wigan Council Youth Worker Vicky Perry, who will be joining the team on board, explains: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the young people to experience a real adventure. They are sure to have a great time but this is no pleasure cruise. There will be plenty of early starts and they’ll be responsible for helping out on a working ocean-going ship.

“The experience will teach them new skills and how to work as part of a team but it will also teach them a lot about themselves.”

The expedition is one of six Tall Ships Challenges undertaken by young people from Wigan Borough, all of which have been sponsored by local businessman Martin Ainscough as part of the ongoing Wigan Youth Zone project.

Phil Marsh who will co-ordinate youth work at the Wigan Youth Zone was on hand this week to watch the young people making their final preparations for the voyage.

“We’re delighted to be helping to make this dream come true for young people from our borough,” Phil said. “For us the personal development side of this adventure is the key to it. We believe the young people will come back from this trip with a host of new skills which they will be able to put to good use as members of the community.”

Phil adds: “We also believe they will inspire other young people in our borough to go on and do great things with tales of their adventures.”

As part of the journey the team will run the Rainbow flag up the mast to recognise LGBT history month. They’ll also be sporting some nifty deck wear in the form of specially designed hoodies that have been sponsored by Manchester-based radio station Gaydio.

Breakfast show presenter Chris Holliday came along to wave the young people off.

“The young people really are entering into the spirit of discovery,” said Chris. “It’s really significant that they are the first LGBT group to do this. They really are blazing a trail for other to follow. What this says is there are no boundaries, there are no limitations. With the right support you can do anything you want to. We’re proud to be sponsoring them and we’ll be keeping track of their progress on air.”

Wigan Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Cllr Susan Loudon, is also wishing the group well.

“I think this is a wonderful opportunity for young people,” says Cllr Loudon. “I imagine that the experience will be one of fun, an adventure, and will be about taking on new challenges both mental and physical. However I am sure that the young people will remember this journey for the rest of their lives. Bon voyage! I look forward to reading their blogs.”

As for the young people, they were more than ready to set sail.

“I can’t wait!” said Dan, 19, “I want to be a youth worker so this will be great experience for me. I will be helping out and hopefully taking a leadership role with the group. It will give me some of the skills I need to pursue my career.”

Whilst James, 18, is looking forward to the more working it all out.

“I love puzzles and coming up with the solution to problems,” he says. “So the navigation and the map reading part will be really interesting. I am also really good with technology so I will be keeping everyone on shore up to date with our progress through our blogs. It is really fitting that that our journey falls within LGBT History Month because by being the first, we are making our own little bit of history.”

Notes to editors

  • PHOTO – The B.yoU group fly the flag for Wigan with Chris Holliday from Gaydio, Youth Worker Vicky Perry, from Wigan Councils, Voice and Engagement Team Phil Marsh from Wigan Youth Zone, Wigan Council Service Manager Jeff Cunliffe and Youth Worker Therese Downham.
  • For more information contact Phil Green at Reportage PR on 07960 868535.

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