A team of veterans affected by military operations have just left Newcastle after a quick stop-off before continuing on their challenge to sail 2,000 miles around the British Isles, on the International Paint sponsored Turn to Starboard Round Britain Challenge.
The voyage, which is also being supported by The Endeavour Fund, began in Falmouth earlier this month. The epic journey is expected to last eight weeks, with the team of 38 veterans stopping at ports across the country including Isle of Wight, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Glasgow and Liverpool, where crowds have been gathering to cheer the crew on.
The team – many with little or no sailing experience – are circumnavigating Britain anti-clockwise on board a 92-foot tall ship to help participants re-engage, reintegrate and gain new skills to help start new careers across the world. Some of the veterans will sail the complete expedition whilst others will join for shorter sections of the voyage. They will be joined by two additional yachts also crewed by ex-serviceman and women to meet the unexpectedly high number of applicants.
Alan Purdy is one such veteran who was met in Newcastle yesterday by his wife and daughter offering their support for the crew. Alan suffered devastating injuries following a fall from his horse whilst on duty serving in the Household Cavalry. As a result of the accident, he suffered brain and spinal injuries and has spent the last 15 years in recovery, gradually putting his life back together. But, now he is embarking on this sailing challenge of a lifetime.
Alan commented: “The Turn to Starboard Round Britain Challenge is for such a worthwhile cause and all the participating veterans are honoured to be involved. There’s a real sense of camaraderie among the team as we pull together to complete the journey – it’s just like being back in the forces. When sailing everything has to be pre-planned and regimented, which fits in perfectly with the way I now work following my accident. We all see sailing as a way forward and a positive experience for each one of us to accomplish. It’s also great to be involved in something that will make my family proud.”
Turn to Starboard was set up three years ago by former RAF leader and CEO, Shaun Pascoe. The charity has helped hundreds of military personnel suffering with physical injuries or mental trauma by providing RYA courses and family sailing trips in a unique and supportive environment. Shaun, who will also be taking part in the challenge, was the leader of a helicopter medical emergency response team. After finding it difficult to adjust to normal life outside of the forces, he embarked on a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Yachtmaster course, and within two weeks of sailing he felt in a better place. He now invests his time in helping others to feel the same.
Shaun commented: “For most of our participants leaving the military, particularly on medical discharge, sees them facing significant challenges, with some losing the true comradeship and sense of purpose that is so important in a military setting. The Round Britain adventure aims to help them readjust by providing the same level of challenge in the company of those who have experienced the same testing conditions. The crew are expected to experience physical exertion and sleep deprivation while overcoming the psychological challenges of living and working in a turbulent natural environment. We are looking forward to the challenge and helping those taking part to regain the sense of value and the belonging they were once so proud of.”
The lead sponsor of the initiative is AkzoNobel’s International coatings brand which is supporting the project and providing essential products from their range of leading yacht coatings, to help prepare the boats for the challenge, and ensure the crew enjoy optimum performance.
Stuart Melville, Global Marketing Support Specialist at AkzoNobel, commented: “This is a fantastic challenge for such a worthy charity and we are delighted to be supporting the team as they fulfil the two month journey. Our team will be offering advice and support to ensure the boat is in top condition and the team are ready to conquer the challenge. We are looking forward to giving them a big welcome at a number of the stops along their journey.”