A hard-of-hearing islander is urging the public to help raise the £1million needed to help a stop a “life-changing” sailing charity in financial crisis from sinking.
The Jubilee Sailing Trust, which empowers people of all abilities by helping them experience the sea, this week issued an “emergency” appeal for donations and only has until tonight to raise just under £200,000 to keep it afloat following cash flow issues.
Over the past 40 years, the JST has organised 50,000 sea experiences on Lord Nelson, the Tenacious and other vessels for people of “all abilities, ages, backgrounds and circumstances”, helping hundreds of islanders in the process.
Among them is local committee member of 20 years, Tracey Watson, who told Express of the “amazing” impact the charity had on her life at a point in her time didn’t feel capable of reaching her full potential.
Pictured: Tracey shared the "amazing" impact the charity has had on her life (Tracey Watson/Jubilee Sailing Trust).
“I lost my hearing when I was four years old – I had the mumps twice, but I stayed locally in Jersey and went to school. Then when I was 16 the Jersey Deaf Society asked me if I would go on board JST’s Lord Nelson and test the facilities for deaf people.”
The experience was transformative, providing a “sense of freedom” she had never before experienced.
“It really did change my life,” Tracey recalled.
“It’s all about enabling things to happen. Society is not quite there yet with enabling – we’re trying by making things more accessible – but these ships are really specifically designed. The only two in the world to be specifically designed to allow anyone of any ability to sail alongside those who are able-bodied.”
So moved by the experience was Tracey that, 30 years later, she’s still involved with the trust, having spent two thirds of that time as a committee member – and even sailed around the world on the Jersey Clipper in 2002.
Pictured: The struggling charity helps make the open seas open to everyone (Tracey Watson/Jubilee Sailing Trust).
With a buddy system in place, true tests of teamwork on deck and ‘leadership at sea’ training, she explained that the trust has helped “change the life of tens of thousands of people” by helping them “build confidence” and prove no one has to be defined by inability.
But the charity recently reported that those valuable services are under threat.
This week, JST headquarters reported that the charity had been “struggling to stabilise our financial situation for the past 12 months, following a number of substantial mechanical issues across both ships, poor uptake of our winter 2018 programme, and the deferral of some partner projects from this summer to next year.”
“This has increased our short-term liabilities and we have not been able to raise the additional income, above that which we normally would expect, which is necessary to cover this shortfall,” they explained.
Following a meeting last week, the charity decided to launch an emergency appeal on JustGiving with an ambitious target of £1million.
While they have managed to generate funds of over £800,000 in just a few days – the charity is not yet back on course, with the final deadline to reach the million target tonight.
Pictured: The Trust is running an ambitious fundraising campaign to raise £1million by tonight (Tracey Watson/Jubilee Sailing Trust).
“If we are unable to reach this target, then it is likely the JST's activities will cease immediately, unless the Trustees can find another viable solution to our funding situation which allows us to continue operating responsibly,” officials warned.
Fiona Walker from the trust’s Jersey branch commented: “The local branch is doing all it can to ensure the future of this worthwhile charity.
“Many islanders, both able and non-able bodied have benefited from sailing experiences with the JST and we very much want that to continue, but it can only do so with some very generous support.”
Ducan Souster, the charity’s CEO, said: “The JST has been a world leader on inclusive adventure since its inception and has played an important role in changing the perception of people with disabilities, long before these issues were in the public eye. Our work is transformative and life changing for the thousands of people who sail with us. It is so important it continues for the benefit of generations to come.”
Pictured: “Many islanders, both able and non-able bodied have benefited from sailing experiences with the JST..." (Jubilee Sailing Trust).
His message was echoed today by top island sailing talent, Phil Sharp, who shared this message with Express, urging islanders to dig deep and help save the sea service: “I'm sure everyone who has come into contact with the Jubilee Sailing Trust will know that it is a truly remarkable and unique cause, inspiring and reinvigorating disabled people through active participation in sailing.
“I have been fortunate enough to do a Round Jersey trip onboard Tenacious a few years ago, and I was amazed to see just how powerful the experience, seeing everyone working together as a solid team and witnessing the satisfaction gained for so many people onboard.
“We must keep Lord Nelson or Tenacious out on our high seas, to keep up the incredible work of the JST and inspire thousands more to come. So please, please take two minutes to donate today!”
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