Volunteer crew who set sail with Tall Ships make return

Paul Cozens, Wayne Robson and his mum, Barbara.
Paul Cozens, Wayne Robson and his mum, Barbara.
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A group of volunteers who set sail with the Tall Ships after they left Blyth have returned to dry land.

A total of 80 people, aged 15 to 63, were recruited to take part in the race leg of the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta from Blyth to Gothenburg, Sweden.

Northumberland County Council, in partnership with the Port of Blyth and Sail Training International, hosted the prestigious Regatta, one of the largest events ever held in the county and the only Regatta in the UK this year.

Many of the trainees were from Northumberland and 33 were supported by county council ward councillors.

Coun Val Tyler, cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture, supported trainee Harry Davey from Bedington.

She said: “Taking part in the 500-nautical-mile race from Blyth to Gothenburg has been the adventure of a lifetime for all the trainees.

“This has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to experience life at sea on a Tall Ship as part of a working crew. This week will have been an adventure leaving them with memories to treasure.”

Martin Lawlor, chief executive, Port of Blyth said: “The trainees have been at the heart of the Tall Ships Regatta and we are delighted to welcome them back to the north east after the race to Gothenburg.

“For some, it’s been their first trip abroad, and for nearly all of them, it’s been their first trip on a Tall Ship. We are delighted that our Port of Blyth apprentice, David McAdams, has been part of the crew of The Maybe learning the ropes in the most spectacular of fashions.”

Alan Ferguson, executive chairman, Fergusons of Blyth, the event’s principal sponsor, said: “We are very proud to have supported 14 sail trainees, including members of Fergusons’ staff and young people from Bad Apples Dance in Blyth, to take part in the Regatta and embark on this epic journey to Gothenburg.

“The trainees have been part of a fantastic real-life adventure aboard a Tall Ship, meeting new friends and learning new skills.”

Trainee Brit Nicholson, from Blyth, was sponsored by Fergusons and sailed on the Swan. She said: “Working and living with so many people in such a small space and sailing together is a unique challenge.

“I learnt a lot about being part of a crew that became more like a family, and about working as a team to get the ship across the North Sea. This has been an amazing adventure.”

Alwyne Colley and Steve Barrigan, from Northumberland Youth Service, helped the trainees prepare for the trip and travelled with them on the Christian Radich as mentors.

Steve said: “Our motto last week was ‘we’ll join the ship as individuals and come back as crew’ and we’ve certainly done that.”

Alwyne said: “The trainees have been learning how to work as a team, how to climb the rigging, how to muster on time, how to do shift work to sail through the night, and they’ve just been brilliant.”