A team of 38 veterans are setting sail on a 2,000-mile voyage around the British Isles in a 92ft tall ship.
The Turn to Starboard Round Britain Challenge starts today, Wednesday 1 June, from 5pm at Falmouth waterfront, and is expected to last eight weeks.
Ports en route will include Ipswich, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Liverpool, Glasgow, Orkney, Isle of Mull, Clyde, Liverpool and the Isles of Scilly.
The team – many with little or no sailing experience – will circumnavigate Britain anti-clockwise on board a 92-foot replica tall ship Spirit of Falmouth to help participants re-engage, reintegrate and gain new skills to help start new careers.
Some of the 38 veterans will sail the complete expedition whilst others will join for legs of the voyage. They will be joined by two additional yachts also crewed by ex-serviceman and women to meet the unexpectedly high number of applicants.
Turn to Starboard, which is sponsored by International Paint and also supported by The Endeavour Fund, was set up three years ago by former RAF leader and CEO, Shaun Pascoe.
The charity has helped hundreds of military personnel suffering with physical injuries or mental trauma by providing RYA courses and family sailing trips in a unique and supportive environment.
Shaun, who will also be taking part in the challenge, was the leader of a helicopter medical emergency response team. After finding it difficult to adjust to normal life outside of the forces, he embarked on a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Yachtmaster course, and within two weeks of sailing he felt in a better place. He now invests his time in helping others to feel the same.
Shaun said: ‘For most of our participants leaving the military, particularly on medical discharge, sees them facing significant challenges, with some losing the true comradeship and sense of purpose that is so important in a military setting.
‘The Round Britain adventure aims to help them readjust by providing the same level of challenge in the company of those who have experienced the same testing conditions.
‘The crew are expected to experience physical exertion and sleep deprivation while overcoming the psychological challenges of living and working in a turbulent natural environment. We are looking forward to the challenge and helping those taking part to regain the sense of value and the belonging they were once so proud of.’
The lead sponsor of the initiative is AkzoNobel’s International coatings brand.
AkzoNobel spokesman Stuart Melville said: ‘This is a fantastic challenge for such a worthy charity and we are delighted to be supporting the team as they fulfil the two month journey.
‘Our team will be offering advice and support to ensure the boat is in top condition and the team are ready to conquer the challenge. We are looking forward to giving them a big welcome at a number of the stops along their journey.’
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