WATCH: Tall ship project given Royal seal of approval

Work to teach youngsters new skills ahead of visits by international tall ships has been given a Royal seal of approval.

HRH The Countess of Wessex was given a tour around the facilities involved in Blyth Tall Ship, seeing first hand the work to help apprentices and youngsters learn new skills.

HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex at Blyth Tall Ships Project
Picture by Jane Coltman

HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex at Blyth Tall Ships Project Picture by Jane Coltman

Her visit today (Wednesday) ended with her renaming the tallship ‘Williams II’ by smashing a bottle of champagne on its side.

The Countess, who was accompanied by the Duchess of Northumberland, was given a warm welcome by local schoolchildren before seeing first hand the work to teach shipbuilding and woodwork skills.

She also met volunteers at Blyth RNLI lifeboat station, based in Blyth Harbour alongside the Blyth Tall Ship project, before a children’s choir and male voice choir sang songs about William Smith and his discovery of the Antarctic Landmass in 1819 in the original Williams built in Blyth.

‘Williams II’ will be the host Tall Ship for the Tall Ship Regatta from Blyth in August and will be the centre pice of the panned Blyth Maritime Festival from the charities quayside location on 3rd and 4th June 2017.

HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex at Blyth Tall Ships Project
Picture by Jane Coltman

HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex at Blyth Tall Ships Project Picture by Jane Coltman

Clive Gray, chief executive of Blyth Tall Ship, said: “We are hugely grateful to The Duchess of Northumberland and Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex for visiting.

“This is a real honour for Blyth Tall Ship and recognises the great work our community volunteers, supporters, trainees and staff are doing to change perceptions and inspire different futures in Blyth.

“The renaming of the vessel and the choirs singing about William Smith from both ends of the generations signal the start of our build up to the bicentennial celebrations of the discovery of the Antarctic Landmass in 2019 and we really start to explore practically and through artistic interpretation, what it meant to discover a whole new content 200 years ago from Blyth.”

Clive Ducker, training assessor who introduced the Countess to the apprentices and talked about their work, said: “It was a bit nerve-wracking having her and talking to her.

“The project is a great success, teaching young people vital skills from the past to give them a future career.”