Words by Jakie Jewell
Grinning from ear to ear, Olivia waves happily at everyone back on the shoreline of Trevassack Lake, as she steers her Hansa sailing dinghy, showing onlookers that Down Syndrome doesn’t hold her back. Local horse-riding enthusiast, Holly, continues her watersports therapy to help with confidence, mobility and dexterity since her traumatic brain injury, as her mum looks on proudly.
Over on the Helford River, a once timid, now excitable group of 8-year-olds jump off into the shallows, helping each other land Oppies while questioning who saw their amazing capsize recovery. And the Children’s Sailing Trust Team smile because we love our jobs and the difference our charity makes every time we get a child on the water.
I was lucky enough to be brought up on the shores of the Helford River, and grateful my children took part in CST’s sailing programme through primary school. I’m now extremely privileged to be CEO of this charity that has had such an impact on my local community.
Since 1997 we’ve taught thousands of young people life skills out on the Helford River. More recently we developed an ex-quarry into a fully accessible watersports centre to welcome all ages and abilities. Trevassack Lake is also our new HQ, so we witness on a daily basis the impact Blue Spaces can have.
It’s incredible to think that one in four children living in Cornwall can’t access the sea, but our watersports staff share their passion freely, encouraging and empowering the most nervous of new sailors. Discovering the freedom of being out on the water brings a light to their eyes; some continue through RYA sailing stages and become instructors, others may only complete one term, but remember the sense of pride and achievement for a lifetime. I couldn’t be more proud of what CST is achieving, instilling confidence in our young people and making watersports accessible to all.
A visiting teacher sent us these words earlier this year: “Sometimes they find the work difficult in class and are distracted, but during sailing they were really focussed, competitive and worked so well as a team. Thank you so much… the whole class benefitted hugely.”