Log In

Reset Password

Government urges private sector to support sailing charity

Taking the plunge: a fundraiser hits the water after being forced to walk the plank off Spirit of Bermuda

The Government has poured cold water on a request for emergency funding from a sailing charity that takes hundreds of public schoolchildren on ocean voyages.

The Bermuda Sloop Foundation appealed to the Government for a $150,000 bailout this month, saying that the cash was needed for its vessel, Spirit of Bermuda, to pass a rigorous seaworthy inspection in the summer.

Jay Kempe, cofounder and chairman of the BSF, addressed his plea to the Premier and several government ministers, but received no reply.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office issued a statement suggesting that no further funding would be provided by the Government.

Instead, she urged the private sector to get on board.

The spokeswoman said: “The Government recognises the cultural and educational role that the Bermuda Sloop Foundation provides in our community. And prior to media reports, Government can confirm that it has engaged with the BSF regarding their concerns. Government is sensitive to the issues raised.

“However, it’s hoped that the wider Bermuda community and the private sector can galvanise behind the BSF and support this organisation so that it can continue to provide engaging and enriching activities for the benefit of our residents, visitors and most importantly our young people.”

The charity has already cancelled all voyages for the next academic year. Typically it organises about 20 weeklong voyages for all M3 students in public schools free of charge, although the cost of the programme is more than $1.4 million annually.

Mr Kempe described the response as “disappointing”.

He said: “This is the first I have heard of the Government’s unwillingness to assist. This is surprising and disappointing. My written appeal of April 10 to the Premier and six of his ministers has yet to receive a reply or acknowledgement.”

The Government’s statement came on the day that the BSF held its annual fundraising event, Pirates of Bermuda.

Dozens of “hostages” were forced at cutlass-point by a gang of marauding pirates to walk the plank off Spirit and plunge into the chilly waters of Hamilton Harbour.

Each of the 31 volunteers had obtained sponsorship from supporters, bringing in about $65,000 for the charity.

Hannah Horsefield, an education officer at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, had taken part in a BSF voyage as an M3 student at Somersfield Academy. Two years later, she was one of the youngest crew members on board Spirit during a Newport-Bermuda yacht race.

Emerging from the water after taking the plunge, Ms Horsefield, 27, said: “It’s such a special charity doing great work that can have a real impact on young people’s lives.

“It’s great to see so many people out here this afternoon supporting the Bermuda Sloop Foundation in order to help it keep going.”

Another supporter who was forced to walk the plank was Roger Lambert.

The semi-retired taxi driver, 66, said: “I’ve been fortunate to sail on Spirit twice and really enjoyed it.

“I really appreciate what the BSF is trying to do for the young people of Bermuda. I just hope that the Spirit can carry on.”

Other volunteers included One Bermuda Alliance senator Douglas De Couto, and Ernest Peets, the former Government Senate Leader and Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport.

Mr Kempe, who was emceeing the event, said: “Dr Peets has always been a huge supporter of the Bermuda Sloop Foundation. We wish he was still the minister.”

Mr Kempe said that most of the money raised by the event have already been earmarked to fund programmes through to the end of the academic year in June.

He said: “Our event was well attended by the public who really got into the spirit things and behind the cause.”

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published April 29, 2024 at 7:59 am (Updated April 29, 2024 at 8:35 am)

Government urges private sector to support sailing charity

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon