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Lord Nelson looking for recruits

Two British-based sailing ships designed to accommodate crew with mental and physical disabilities have launched a recruitment drive in Bermuda.

The Lord Nelson tall ship, which is docked in St George's, has no spaces left on its upcoming voyage to Britain — but its captain, Chris Phillips, said there would be many other opportunities to get a taste of life at sea.

The Lord Nelson and its sister ship Tenacious, operated by the Jubilee Sailing Trust, are adapted so that people of all abilities can join the crew.

Gordon Johnson, a Bermudian who was a sail trainee on Lord Nelson in 2015, enjoyed the experience so much that he has introduced the Trust to special needs care centres on the island.

Now the Bermuda Sailors Home, a charity set up for the welfare of seafarers, is to offer two to four bursaries in 2020 for people with physical and/or mental disabilities to help them take part in a voyage.

Mr Johnson said: “I want to highlight that this ship does call on Bermuda and there will be opportunities for Bermudians and Bermuda residents, both able bodied and otherwise, to join in the future.”

He added he had contacted WindReach, an outdoor centre for the disabled and the K Margaret Carter Centre for people with physical or learning problems to talk about ways Bermudians and residents could take advantage of the ships.

Mr Johnson said: “They are very positive and appreciative and so we are looking at making a firm connection.”

Representatives of WindReach joined Mr Johnson and Alison Crocket, the Deputy Governor, on board the ship yesterday afternoon to mark the partnership.

Mr Johnson, who is able bodied and teamed up with a disabled crew-mate during his trip, added: “It was a learning journey for me — I thought, what a unique opportunity for me to not only have my first ocean sail but to experience a ship that had been structured to be much more inclusive than how I historically saw sailing.

“It opened my eyes to their abilities and also what it offered them.

“My cabin-mate, Nick, had lost a leg and this opportunity really gave him a way to reframe his life.

“He had sailed with JST before and said he found it very inspiring and rewarding.”

Ilya Cherapau, the manager at Bermuda Sailors Home, said: “We are providing financial support because this is a unique sailing experience thanks to the tall ships' connection to sailing history and the fact that they carry people with disabilities. It is a brilliant initiative and we are proud to support it.”

Captain Phillips told prospective crew members: “Just come and give it a go, you don't have to go on a long ocean passage to try it out. There are also shorter voyages in more sheltered waters.

“You have the opportunity to meet people from all sorts of different backgrounds, you will be pushed beyond your normal boundaries and taken outside of your comfort zone.

“Crew members often reach into their inner reserves and realise how much they are capable of doing.”

For more information, e-mail info@jst.org.uk or call 01144-2380-449108. For bursary information, call the Bermuda Sailors Home on 295-5598, e-mail bermudasailorshome@logic.bm or visit bermudasailorshome.com/lord-nelson

Rory Goodlad helps Jamie Brangman aboard (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published March 23, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated March 23, 2019 at 11:23 am)

Lord Nelson looking for recruits

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