Challenge Wales, Wales’ Tall Ship has been awarded the UK Sail Training Vessel of the Year by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the Association of Sail Training Organisations (ASTO) at an industry event in Southampton.
The award is given to a vessel which has had an exceptional year and has fulfilled both the sail training aspirations of ASTO plus the seamanship and safety requirements for the MCA. The award looks at good management, safety, high quality sail training, volunteer management, innovations in the types of young people groups jumping aboard, maintenance management and how results are measured.
Challenge Wales provides personal and social development training for young people aged 12 – 25 years to help them improve their employability skills. Sail training helps young people to improve their teamwork and communication skills, discipline, teaches them respect and responsibility as well as develops self-confidence in a challenging yet positive ‘can-do’ environment onboard the Challenge Wales vessel.
Sir Alan Massey, CEO of the MCA said “We chose Challenge Wales as this year’s highly deserving winner as the vessel stood out for determination and resourcefulness of everybody involved with her to make a real, safe and lasting difference to the lives of the community in which she operates. A fine exemplar of the sail training ethos. We in the MCA were particularly impressed by the story of one of her voyage crew, an 18 year old man whose life was given renewed purpose as a result of just a short time with Challenge Wales. This was a wonderful example of what can be achieved by experiencing well-managed, caring and professional training out at sea under sail – something that is barely achievable in any other type of activity”.
Skipper of Challenge Wales, Captain Andy Hall, said “Winning this award is a fantastic accolade to our volunteers, supporters and staff. Over the past eight years the charity has grown and is continuing to grow. We continue to work with a variety of young people from those looking for an adventure and to put sail training on their CV to those who are disadvantaged in one of many ways and looking to develop essential life skills to move into employment. Sail training is a great leveller, putting everyone on the same platform regardless of who you are and your background.
Lucy Gross, General Manager of ASTO stated: “Several excellent Sail Training vessel operators were nominated for this award. Challenge Wales have made a particular effort this year to improve their youth work provision and working in partnerships which is why we were pleased to present them with this coveted award.”
Challenge Wales has an exciting sail training programme planned for 2017 that young people and groups can still be part of, with bursary funding available to support many young people aged 12 – 25 years.