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Businesses’ quiet support for the Spirit

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When a young student turned up to take part in an educational trip aboard the Spirit of Bermuda sloop, there was a problem.

Students had been advised to bring wet weather gear to protect them from waves and rain, and to keep them warm during night watch shifts above deck.

The student's wet weather gear was a trash bag.

“It was sad to see,” said David Goodwin, chairman of the Bermuda Sloop Foundation, which owns and operates the Spirit.

Every year the floating classroom gives hundreds of students from the island an opportunity to experience life aboard the Spirit and learn life skills, irrespective of their background, so it is almost inevitable that some with less means than others will arrive less suitably equipped.

The good news is that youngsters who board the Spirit of Bermuda today have free access to 50 quality foul weather suits provided by Hamilton-based Island Trading.

The store is among a group of business that provide donations in kind — goods and services that are used in the day-to-day activities of the sloop — to a collective value of more than $180,000 last year.

The donations are part of much broader community support. Businesses, organisations and others, including the Bermuda Government, help support the near $2 million annual running costs of the Bermuda Sloop Foundation and the Spirit. The Foundation also generates revenue through fundraising and its programmes.

The donations in kind support from businesses range from fuel to ship insurance, mobile phone and data services, and food supplies.

In turn, the Spirit of Bermuda Foundation does what it can to show its appreciation. That is why staff and guests of Island Trading were given a two-hour evening cruise aboard the Spirit on Friday.

Mr Goodwin referred to the business, which has a store on Reid Street East, as one of the “quiet supporters”, adding: “We wanted to thank them.”

In relevant places around the sloop are plaques that recognise various donations in kind contributions from the business community. In the galley is one for Butterfield & Vallis, the wholesale food distributor, while above the command console is the name CellularOne [now One Communications], which provides communications and data services. Near the engine room is recognition of Rubis, which provides fuel for the Spirit. There are others.

Island Trading is the latest to join the list. Two plaques created by Milton Hill have pride of place next to the closet where the foul weather suits are stored. And the need for such gear is unquestionable.

“When it is rough you really need the wet weather gear. When you are on the night watch, if you don't have quality gear you really suffer,” said Mr Goodwin.

It is hoped the foul weather gear will last for three or four years, keeping youngsters dry and warm when they are aboard the sloop.

The link with Island Trading goes back a long way. Since he was a youngster, Mr Goodwin has known Roger Farge, who with his wife Gillian founded Island Trading.

Mr Farge also has an ocean background as a mariner, and was an early supporter of the project to build the Spirit. The sloop was launched in 2005.

Mr Goodwin said the Farge family had been very supportive of the Spirit of Bermuda's programmes.

And when asked about Island Trading's support, Mrs Farge said: “Roger was a mariner, and there has always been a link to the sea; it's gone through the rest of the family. So something like this is quite natural, and we had the rain gear in the store.

“We are proud to play a part. And it's wonderful for younger people to have the exposure to the sea.”

Branwen Smith-King, executive director of the Bermuda Sloop Foundation, was aboard the Spirit to meet the Island Trading group. She said getting to meet the people who provide support, either through financial donations or with donations in kind, was important.

And she said offering them an experience aboard the sloop “was the least we could do to show our appreciation”.

Ms Smith-King is a former international medal-winning track and field athlete for Bermuda. She returned to the island earlier this year to take up the executive director position with the Bermuda Sloop Foundation. Previously she was an athletic coach and administrator at Tufts University, in Massachusetts.

“We are changing lives, one voyage at a time,” she said, adding that the support of the community and businesses was crucial in making that happen.

“We really rely on the community to support us,” she said.

To learn more about the Bermuda Sloop Foundation, visit http://www.bermudasloop.org/

Business support: Island Trading staff and guests aboard the Spirit of Bermuda. The Hamilton-based business is one of a group of companies that provide donations in kind to support the Bermuda Sloop Foundation's programmes (Photograph supplied)
Showing support: two plaques to recognise Island Trading's support of the Bermuda Sloop Foundation's programmes have been placed next to a storage cabinet containing the foul weather suits it donated to the Spirit of Bermuda (Photograph supplied)
An evening out: Island Trading staff and guests were treated to a two-hour evening excursion on the Spirit of Bermuda to thank the business for providing 50 foul weather suits to be used by students taking part in educational voyages on the sloop (Photograph supplied)

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Published November 01, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated October 31, 2017 at 8:12 pm)

Businesses’ quiet support for the Spirit

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