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Voyage of discovery

Tall Ships Youth Trust

04-12-2012 | For the young people who have sailed with tall ships youth trust, it's an unforgettable experience. A journey both of body and mind, the charity's voyages leave a legacy of personal development to last a lifetime.

Participants in Tall Ships Youth Trust's sail training

“This is the first time Ellie has been assessed on her ability, not her disability.”

Learning the ropes

“I’m always being told that I’m trouble, that I’m not good at anything. But my voyage changed all that. I’ve learnt how to work in a team, that discipline gets things done and above all, that I can do all sorts of things I didn’t know I could.” Sixteen year old James is one of the young people who’ve changed their attitude and now holds the ambition to realise their full potential, thanks to the Tall Ships Youth Trust.

Since the 1950s, Tall Ships has been dedicated to the personal development of young people aged 12-25. The charity provides a raft of training activities based on their fleet of sailing ships, from day taster sessions to 25-night voyages around the Caribbean. The experience of crewing the ocean going vessels encourages the young people involved to find themselves, work with others, discover their own abilities and experience life to the full. Of the 3,000 young people the charity supports each year, around 70% are disabled or from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Participants in Tall Ships Youth Trust's sail training

Sea change

Chief Executive, Chris Law wholeheartedly believes “the Trust changes young people’s lives for the better”. The participant’s experience certainly backs this up, with over 95% saying their voyage helped them to grow in confidence and self-esteem, and other benefits including better communication skills, developing problem solving and greater self reliance.

Often the relationship with the Trust doesn’t stop there. Around one in five of people who’ve been on a voyage with Tall Ships return to give their time and support, with 1,500 volunteers working alongside the permanent crew to keep the ships operating all year round. The impact Tall Ships has on the young people whose lives it touches should not be underestimated. Ellie, who has Down’s syndrome, went on a Tall Ships voyage as part of our respite care. “This is the first time Ellie has been assessed on her ability, not her disability,” explains her mum. “From the moment she stepped on board she was accepted as part of the crew. It truly changed her life.”



The Tall Ships Youth Trust is a registered charity founded in 1956 that is dedicated to the personal development of young people through the crewing of ocean going sail training vessels. It is the UK’s oldest and largest sail training charity for young people aged 12 to 25. Over 100,000 trainees have sailed 1.8 million nautical miles on Tall Ships Youth Trust’s fleet – a 60m brig, four 22m oceangoing Challenger Yachts and a 19m Catamaran. On average, 70% of the young people sailing with the Trust are disadvantaged or disabled.


The Trust offers sail training voyages to anyone aged 12-80. No sailing experience is needed as Voyage Crews are taught everything they need to know. Whether you’re young and at school or an adult and need some time off work, all of the Trust’s voyages are about fun, adventure and taking on a challenge. Not only will you become a proficient sailor, you will also make lots of new friends and try new things - coming away with a renewed energy and enthusiasm after an experience you will never forget.

words: Simon Marlow

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