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Birthday girl’s gift for addiction programme

As Belinda Castree's 40th birthday approached, she told her friends not to give her any gifts.

Instead she asked them to donate to an ocean-bound programme aboard the Spirit of Bermuda for people recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.

The Charlotte Sail is named after Charlotte Watlington, who died in 2013 after battling with addiction and depression.

Ms Castree did not know Charlotte well but was good friends with her sister, Alexandra.

She managed to raise $700 for the programme through the generous gesture.

Ms Castree told The Royal Gazette: “Mental health is something that is very personal to me.

“I knew what Charlotte had been through, through her sister. I knew how hard life was for her but I also knew that she loved sailing. I was just blown away by what they were doing at Charlotte's Sail.

“People have no inhibitions on the sail and they know that no one is going to judge them.

“Some people are born with mental health issues and addictions can come along with that.

“It is part of the package, unfortunately, for some people.

“The programme gets people out on the water and working as a team — there is nothing around them to influence them.

“It is very spiritual — not in a religious way, necessarily, but very much in a way that is very healing. It also helps knowing that you are not alone.”

Ms Castree was reluctant to have a story published about her gesture but Charlotte Sail organiser Gordon Johnson, who has also suffered with addiction, convinced her it would help to spread the word.

“I didn't want to be recognised for it, I don't need praise,” Ms Castree said.

“I am fortunate to be very lucky in life. I have no wants, I don't need anything, so I funnelled it into something more helpful.

“Gordon was adamant that if we get in the paper and say something then maybe it will inspire more people to do it or support the programme.”

Battled illness: the Charlotte sail is named after Charlotte Watlington, who died in 2013 and battling with addiction and depression

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Published December 11, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 11, 2015 at 1:12 am)

Birthday girl’s gift for addiction programme

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