A unique partnership between a water company and a Tall Ship project is to set sail.
The Blyth Tall Ship Project will recreate William Smith’s voyage in 1819. The discoverer, who was born in Seaton Sluice, discovered the Antarctica landmass in a ship built in Blyth.
In 2019, to celebrate the 200th anniversary year, a replica ship, the Williams II, is being refitted and will set sail to Antarctica.
Northumbrian Water has joined the Blyth Tall Ship Project crew with a sponsorship including £40,000 of financial support.
The Blyth Tall Ship Project gives young people, aged between 16 and 28, skills to help them gain employment.
More than 200 crew will be trained by the Blyth Tall Ship Project and have the opportunity to sail the Williams II on various legs of the expedition. They will sail around Britain between May and July 2019, reach Antarctica by January 2020 and arrive back in Blyth in July 2020.
Chris Jones, Northumbrian Water’s Research and Development manager, said: “Being involved in this project is a great example of Northumbrian Water’s commitment to helping local communities
“We are very excited about working with schools to develop scientific experiments, which will be carried out on board the Williams II, to investigate water quality and ways to protect the environment.”
Clive Gray, Blyth Tall Ship Project’s Chief Executive, said: “It is fantastic to have Northumbrian Water’s support. This project is something that Blyth can be so proud of.”
“My main aim is to inspire young people to take control of their lives through learning and working hard. We would really like more businesses and organisations to get involved. Partnership working enables the sharing of skills, knowledge and experience and will definitely benefit both the project and all involved.
“This is not an expedition for the faint hearted though! Becoming part of the crew who will sail to Antarctica will be based being able to demonstrate competent sail skills, robustness of character to face the toughest seas in a 100-year-old ship. I have no doubt that we will find and train some superb sailors.”
Recruitment for the Williams II expedition will begin in early 2018.
The Blyth Tall Ship Project was founded by Clive in 2010 and has, so far, seen 200 young people gain skills, experience and confidence, with 70 per cent finding employment or going into further education.