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October 25, 2012

Cheered on by a crowd of supporters and serenaded by fire hoses, the tall ship Lord Nelson set off triumphantly from Southampton on Trafalgar Day (21 October), to sail around the world.

Photo courtesy of Damien Burke

The ship is crewed by people of mixed physical abilities, including wheelchair users, and will become the first accessible tall ship ever to sail around the world. The first stopover and crew change will be at Rio de Janeiro – home of the Paralympic Games 2016.

The ship left the dock at 1150am, the time that Admiral Lord Nelson hoisted his final flag signal to the fleet at Trafalgar to ‘set all sails possible with safety to the mast’. Named after Britain’s most famous disabled sailor, the tall ship Lord Nelson was purpose designed and built to be sailed by people of all physical abilities, working side by side as equals.

There are two special objects on board that will go all the way round the world with the ship: the Baton and a Paralympic torch.

The Baton is designed to represent the nation’s support for our Armed Forces and as a symbol of our national conscience. It is crafted from the handle of a stretcher that has seen active service in Helmand Province and the photo below shows it being handed over by the Baton founder Alan Rowe MBE (centre) to wounded serviceman Alan Henderson who is sailing Lord Nelson to Rio.

A Paralympic torch is also accompanying Lord Nelson around the world as a symbol of the legacy of the world’s focus on the athletes at London 2012 and all that can be achieved when the environment is designed to be inclusive.The photo below shows the Torch being held by James Whale with cerebral palsy and Captain Barbara Campbell.

Lord Nelson is operated by the Southampton based charity, the Jubilee Sailing Trust. The ship will be away for two years and cover 50,000 sea miles as well as visiting over 30 countries and all 7 continents. A new crew will join for each of the 10 ocean passages.

Lord Nelson’s crew of 50 on the first leg to Rio de Janeiro is made up from people of all walks of life; a taxi driver from Southampton, a wounded Royal Marine funded by Help for Heroes, a man with visual impairments caused by meningitis and a wheelchair user with cerebral palsy, to mention but a few.

Everywhere the ship and her crew go, they will be an ambassador for disability awareness, diversity, and how much can be achieved when an environment is designed to be inclusive.

To follow Lord Nelson’s progress, follow the blog on

or the Jubilee Sailing Trust Facebook page

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