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The past year has been one of encouraging progress for the charity, tinged with disappointment in certain areas – much like life. Although this is covered in detail in the rest of this article, we have increased, significantly, the number of young people that we have sent to sea and widened the areas from which they come.  On the other hand, support for the fund raising events which we have organised through the year has been disappointing. Without that support we will find it increasingly difficult to carry on our effective work with maximum effect.  I believe that the Royal Thames Yacht Club, in starting the Charitable Trust is unique in what it has achieved; however, we have run up against a potential problem in that, in the eyes of the outside world at least, all our members are wealthy which means that appeals for funds launched into that outside world are greeted with a certain understandable surprise. Thus, in practical terms we have to remain dependent on the generosity of members.  Please, in 2014, give us the support we need to enable us to carry on the increasingly rewarding work which has been started. Ways in which you can support are shown on our website .

Charity, it is said is “giving money, goods or time to the unfortunate, either directly or by means of a charitable trust or other worthy cause”.  This however is not a rounded description of what we, your trustees, do;  apart from asking you, in a nice way we hope, to support us with donations standing orders and even bequests, the charity sources people who are not just unfortunate but people who are also young and have a wish to go to sea which they cannot fulfil. At first, this was certainly a challenge, but, bit by bit, we are making ourselves known and new avenues are opening up. For this we have to thank, in part, the Association of Sail Training Organisations, who, after a visit to their Gosport headquarters, advertised the Trust’s activities to all their members as well as, in common with the RYA, giving us space on their website.  Whilst this greater exposure has led to our receiving applications for funds that we have had to decline, the overall effect has been encouraging. We are here to help those from disadvantaged backgrounds and not little Johnny when his Dad will not stump up the last £500 for his second Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.  In this coming year, we hope to be working additionally with The Prince’s Trust and the Young Offenders’ Section of HM Prison Service.


The sources of our young beneficiaries fall broadly into three categories: youth sailing organisations, other youth care charities and the Sea Cadets. It is a saddening experience hearing of the backgrounds from which some of our beneficiaries come but all to date have gained enormously from the opportunity which has been presented to them.  This is not just a holiday but an opportunity to work as part of a crew, depending on your mates and knowing they depend on you, gaining self-respect and with it a degree of confidence and independence. One of our new sources this year is a charity called Hartlepool Carers which gives support to all those in the area whose lives are taken over by the task of caring for infirm or bedridden relatives. They have a specialist youth section and, by way of example, one young person was removed for their own protection from the care of abusive parents and sent to live with grandparents one of whom died shortly after the move and the other of which became bedridden and in constant need of care. The life of this young person was confined to being an unpaid nursemaid except for attendances at school when other duties permitted. An extract from the diary which was submitted says it all:


After plotting the course for Whitby we set sail. On our way there we caught some mackerel which we later eat pan fried in porridge oats. Nearing the end of our journey it started to rain very heavily, but this didn’t dampen our spirits as we sat on deck playing games and singing sea shanties .We got to Whitby at night which looked awesome, we where near the abbey which looked scary and Dracula-ish. I got to radio in saying we where nearly in. We had to wait for the bridge to rise, but when it did we got in and turned in for bed. Thank you for letting me have a wonderful experience on the boat. I hope to go again someday.


Hartlepool Carers are but one of the organisations with whom we work, the full list being shown on our website which please visit to get a fuller flavour of our activities.


In the course of the season we have sent some 55 young people to sea from various branches of the Sea Cadets and nine of the other youth organisations. Former Rear Commodore Bob Durie has kindly introduced the Bristol branch of the Sea Cadets to us and we would be delighted if other members would inform us of additional organisations or individuals with whom we can work.  Another useful addition to our list of youth organisations this year has been the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre at Millwall.


Another heart warming extract from the report of one of our beneficiaries who went to sea with the Jubilee Sailing Trust reads as follows:-

I have great memories of finishing a watch, or coming back on board after being ashore and heading down to the lower mess and socialise with everyone who was still awake at silly hours. I have made some truly amazing friends with amazing people despite some of the massive age gaps but I hope I will meet them again someday, possibly on another voyage. Some have already been in contact via Facebook making future plans to catch up!

Once again I would like to thank the JST, The Worshipful Company of Dyers and The Royal Thames Yacht Club for providing me with the service and financial support that they did in order to allow me the opportunity to become part of the Voyage Crew as I would never have been able to experience such an amazing, eye opening and life changing opportunity without them.


Although our main objective is to provide underprivileged young people with the opportunity of going to sea, we have also sponsored a boat building apprentice being trained by the Faversham Creek Trust, a vigorous charity introduced to us by Club Member Sir Ronnie Macintosh . Our sponsored apprentice, Tom Browning, is engaged in restoring Centaur, a 1905 Thames sailing barge.


As this goes to press we are in active discussion with the Rona Project, Jubilee Sailing Trust and Hartlepool Carers about winter projects for getting up to twenty five more young people to sea.


Turning to fundraising, on 5 June, the Charity held a reception at the Westminster Boating Base in their splendid premises, provided with the aid of National Lottery funds, overlooking the Thames. It was a glorious evening with delicious canapés and prosseco but all the guests, including our Vice Commodore, said “What a wonderful evening but why are there not more people here?” Well it certainly wasn’t for lack of effort or organisation. The Trustees hope that members are proud of their charity and what it has achieved and that now and in the future they will give support to all the hard work that goes on.


In a similar vein, the Rona Project, one of our most energetic providers of sea-going experience, offered Club members an open day at the end of June. I am disappointed to report that this had to be cancelled owing to lack of interest.


We have got where we are through your generosity and support but this is needed on an ongoing basis. We need your help and ways in which you can support us are shown on the website.

On a more positive note, the Trustees are planning further events to involve members in 2014 which will be advertised when arrangements are more advanced. Amongst them are a day on the sea with the Rona Sailing Project, a evening reception on the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s T/S Tenacious in the Pool of London and a visit to the Faversham Creek Trust.

A noticeable factor is that, initially voyages for our beneficiaries was a purely seasonal matter but now we find ourselves sending young people to sea throughout most of the year. We are currently arranging for a group of youngsters from the North of England to go to sea over New Year which should be particularly character building. Although we are probably all passionate about sailing, largely because we like it, there are real practical advantages which this can offer to the disadvantaged beneficiaries whom we source. These advantages have been succinctly listed in the web site of one of sailing charities with whom we work, Ocean Youth Trust North:


      Develop teamwork and mutual trust

     Make new friends and create lasting bonds

     Gain awareness of the environment

     Develop a sense of equality and fairness

     Spend time in other people's company - cook together eat together, communicate as a team

     Take responsibility for their own actions and decisions

     Understand the different needs and backgrounds of others

     Gain a range of sea, sailing and survival skills

     Gain a qualification


To be taken from backgrounds which in these times should be regarded as unacceptable and offered these opportunities is, we believe, an objective worth working for. The reports which we receive bear testimony to the success of what we are aiming to achieve. Many of the young people to whom we have been able to offer opportunities are the victims of circumstances as much as background. Some may be tied with family caring commitments but another frequent setting is those from families whose members may not have worked for generations. Tanith Dodge, the HR director of Marks & Spencer recently reported in relation to their apprenticeship scheme and more particularly the drop-outs from it: “They live in a community where, when they go back at the end of the day, it [work] is frowned upon”. Often the experience gained at sea both reveals unknown opportunities and grants the confidence necessary to go out into the world and find work. Please find it in your hearts to support our ongoing work.


I mentioned earlier that one of our achievements over the past two years has been to widen both the sources of our beneficiaries and the number of sailing charities with whom we work to get them to sea. The map here illustrates the geographic spread of the sea-going charities (in blue) and the sources of the young people whom we send to sea (in red). As ever we welcome introductions to additional sources of young people who would benefit from what we offer.


Thanks for what we have achieved are due to my fellow trustees, Doug Harkham, Bernard Kinchin, George Ehlers and Rufus Gilday, our Hon Treasurer, Rupert Salmon and our reasonably newly appointed Hon Secretary, Gwynne Lawrence. Life would be hard without the support of the Club Secretariat and particularly without the help of David Freeman who ever has in mind the interests of the charity. Also, our thanks go to Martin Lindsay, who when not suffering injury through sailing with Club members, looks after our website in magnificent and generous style. Most of all our thanks are due to those who have supported us by bankers’ orders, donations, commutation of Club debenture repayments, saleable gifts or whatever.


Should you wish to support our work, ways of doing so can be found on our website at With your help, there are exciting times ahead.


Andrew Collins

Chairman of the Trustees

Royal Thames Yacht Club Charitable Trust.