Ashington student riding the crest of a wave

Emily Runciman on the Black Diamond of Durham.
Emily Runciman on the Black Diamond of Durham.

A Northumberland student has just completed the trip of a lifetime on board a Tall Ships yacht as an ambassador for the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta – Blyth 2016.

Emily Runciman, from Ashington, answered an advert for a bursary giving a young person a chance to join the crew of the Black Diamond of Durham as a volunteer sailing to the Tall Ships Belfast 2015 event. The 17-year-old, a member of the Northumberland Sport coaching academy at Northumberland College, joined the ship in Hartlepool on Sunday, June 21, and set sail under the command of Captain Calvyn Whitehand and crew plus fellow trainees in heavy seas.

The bursary, sponsored by Active Northumberland and the Port of Blyth, provides a 14-day taste of maritime adventure ending today with the yacht having called in at Belfast on Wednesday. Emily has spent 10 days at sea on board the Class C Tall Ship yacht, sailing from Hartlepool to Belfast via the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness.

Earlier this week, Emily said: “I am having a brilliant time on board the Black Diamond. It can be challenging at times, but it’s very rewarding in the end and has given me a real sense of achievement.

“I would highly recommend taking part in the Tall Ships training programme to anyone as it is an unforgettable experience. It encourages you to get involved in something outside of your comfort zone, and you learn lots of new skills and how to work as part of a crew.

“Some people might be put off by the fact that they might get sea sick or that they are stuck on a boat, but, in all honesty, I have had a cracking time. It has completely changed my opinion on sailing and about meeting new people.”

Having arrived in Belfast on Wednesday, the trainees have enjoyed the fun, excitement, entertainment and activities of the crew parade, crew prize-giving and crew party. Emily is now staying on board for another couple of weeks’ sailing to Ålesund, Norway.

Bruce Ledger, from Active Northumberland/Northumberland Sport, said: “Emily is a fantastic ambassador for the county and we are delighted to sponsor her to be a member of the crew on a Tall Ship voyage. It is a great opportunity for Emily especially as she is hoping to join the Navy after her college course.”

For further information relating to sail training and The Tall Ships Races, visit and for information relating to the Tall Ship, Black Diamond of Durham, visit