Excelsior Trust supporters are asking firms and individuals to sponsor “bunks aboard the ship” which helps vulnerable young people by training them gain lifestyle and bonding skills at sea.
Norfolk and Suffolk’s iconic last sailing trawler still at sea, must target new horizons – and financial help - to ensure her survival.
The ship’s Trust has encountered major new costs in maintaining her future sailing condition and is mounting bids for vital funding. Efforts in early 2011 to seek up to £250,000 were hit by an incident involving a broken mast and damaged rigging and subsequent funding delays which set her progress back by six months
Excelsior, built in Lowestoft in 1921 and 90 years old this year, will be used for programmes of training and help to vulnerable young people from difficult and deprived backgrounds in the East of England, and further afield.
Chairman Geoffrey Copeman told supporters at a function at the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club in Lowestoft, where the ship is based: “Thankfully many charities for young people recognise her talents to help them. We hope to develop much more training, including ashore as well as at sea.
“Her sailing trips at sea can re-shape attitudes and trust, teamwork and bonding, as up to a dozen people work together to sail her in often tough, trying weather and circumstances. We have been assured that a few days at sea achieve better results than weeks on land. Norfolk’s Benjamin Foundation is one of a number we are working with – but funding is urgent, indeed critical for the ship’s future to help them.”
The Trust is seeking sponsors for each of 17 bunks aboard the ship – for 12 young people and their charity staff who work the ship to the direction of a professional skipper and crew when at sea.
Sponsors would also have the opportunity to sail aboard the ship, enjoy a party and bunks would carry their names. The donations requested are £1,000 for two years, or £500 per annum.
The Trust hopes to appoint a distinguished sailor and soldier, Richard Pattison, as skipper of the ship and manager of the Trust. Mr Pattison is a major in the Army, has a commercial Yachtmaster ocean skipper qualification and wide experience ashore and at sea with the forces. He retires from the Army early in 2012.
Richard told supporters some of his, and others’ secrets of success, including survival in tough conditions, not only at sea – but on exercises he has conducted in the Antarctic.
“As young people find out when they sail Excelsior, there is much more in you than you know and our training will help them discover this. Soldiering shows, among other things, that the ‘old’ can survive longer than the young – another philosophy the ship can demonstrate, growing compassion as well as fitness and survival techniques to the young.”
New training courses being developed by the Trust will include land-based activities as well as at sea.
For information on how you can sponsor a bunk click here.