This week the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s very own Andy Spark received one of the most prestigious awards for Sail Training, in recognition for almost 30 years working for the Trust.
At the International Sail Training & Tall Ships Conference in Bordeaux, France, Andy received the Lifetime Achievement Award. The honour – although to Andy’s surprise on the night – was well deserved as his story and work has inspired thousands of people both with disabilities and able-bodied to take up sailing.
After a serious motorbike accident led to the amputation of his leg in 1988, Andy started sailing on board the STS Lord Nelson – a pioneering tall ship that is accessible for all abilities to sail.
Since then, he has dedicated his career to helping others with disabilities embark on life-changing adventures aboard the Trust’s tall ships. Andy’s near 30 year career has taken him from being involved with building the JST’s second accessible tall ship, Tenacious, to recently becoming Head of Programmes – an instrumental role in designing inclusive voyages around the world.
Speaking after the event hosted by Sail Training International, Andy said:
“Tall ship sailing is the perfect platform for breaking down the barriers between abilities. It changed my life for the better nearly 30 years ago and I’ve been fortunate to be part of changing lives of others since then. It’s a real honour to receive this award, particularly as the nominations came from many of my peers and people who have been involved in sail training for longer than I have.
“I urge anyone who has never done a voyage on a tall ship to try it out. Irrespective of age or ability, I guarantee you will learn a lot about yourself and others you sail with.”
His journey has been a pursuit of equality with the JST’s mission at the core. His drive, passion and motivation to make sail training accessible to all, regardless of their physical or sensory impairments, is quite simply outstanding.
Paul Fairhurst, the JST’s Strategy, Policy & Planning Director, commented:
“Andy is a man with an unrivalled passion for our work, for our ships and for the people whose lives we change. He is widely respected for a knowledge of sail training and seamanship that is extraordinary in someone who has no professional seafaring qualifications.
“He cares greatly for, and will go out of his way to help, colleagues and people around him. He always stands up for what he believes is right – often in a way that plays to his image as “a grumpy Welshman”. Andy thoroughly deserves this award. We are all thrilled for him.”