In early June 1977, the originator of the Jubilee Sailing Trust, Christopher Rudd, drafted a proposal which he sent to the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Appeal ( which had been created by His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, to celebrate H.M. The Queen’s 25 years on the throne ). The idea proposed was to adapt an existing sailing vessel, or design a new one, to make it possible for physically handicapped young people to participate in the ship’s working crew alongside their able bodied companions. Through his own experience of boats and the sea, including regular expeditions aboard his half-size Thames barge,’CYGNET’, Christopher was convinced of the tremendous value of adventure pursuits afloat.
In his Proposal, he wrote: “There is something particularly satisfying in meeting the challenge of the elements afloat, which leads to a feeling of real achievement, increase body-mind harmony and a sense of closeness with those sharing the experience.” The proposed scheme suggested that the ship was to have, “a wheel-chair lift, and such deck levels and widths that the passage of wheel chairs will be possible; gear would be adapted to make it easy for the handicapped to make a real contribution to the running of the ship.” The essential qualities it would need, wrote Christopher, are: “Adaptability, stiffness( i.e. steadiness in the water), lack of ‘clutter’ on deck and below, and an extra special accent on safety”. He ended his paper with: “ This suggestion comes as a result of years of experience of taking children and young people, with and without handicap, afloat, both on inland waters and the sea, and seeing them benefit in so many important ways.”
The response from the circulation of Christopher’s Proposal was most encouraging. The reply from County Hall, Kingston-upon-Thames considered it ”of national importance”, and the Q.S.J.A. Co-ordinator for East and West Sussex, Lionel Greene, wrote that it was, in his opinion, ” the most exciting and imaginative scheme we have yet received ”. Lionel later joined the initial Steering Committee for a time, ensuring that the Trust received a generous grant (£3,000) for developing the project into a working reality. He it was who suggested the Trust’s name,and, through his contact with Co-Founder of the PHAB clubs, Mary Robinson, gave the embryonic J.S.T. its first PH members : paraplegic wheelchair user George Davies, and Frances Langford who had been blind since birth. Lionel’s and the Q.S.J.A.’s recognition of the potential of Christopher’s dream gave it a firm start on the path towards realization .
Through his sailing instruction activities, Christopher met Dr Tony Hicklin (Consultant in Rheumatology and Rehabilitation), as well as Cyril Poulton (Design Engineer) and his brother Keith (Senior Scientific Officer at the National Maritime Institute) . Their enthusiasm, and willingness to lend personal expertise to a new project at such an early stage in its development , showed amazing confidence . Tony Hicklin became a widely respected authority on sailing for the disabled, and as the Trust’s Principal Medical Adviser and through his wide connections in the medical field, became a much valued member of the Trust and remains to this day, a long-standing Trustee. He has for over 35 years given dedicated service to the Trust , being not only a key figure in its development, but also throughout its subsequent growth.
Tony was responsible for the redoubtable Jenny Waldron joining the J.S.T. Jenny was Deputy Principal of the Queen Elizabeth Foundation for the Disabled, Banstead Place ,and became part of the original Steering Committee. While taking part in several early trial voyages, she brought to everyone’s notice the practical requirements of PH crew. Her expert hand was greatly appreciated at that time, when getting right the practical details of design were all-important . One must remember that it was a whole new concept of sailing vessel which was being designed – one where the working crew were to be of mixed ability : P.H. and A.B.( physically handicapped and able bodied ) .
Christopher’s ‘chance’ meeting with Lt. Cdr. Morin Scott R.N.R., the chief inspiration behind the Sea Cadet Corps’ training ship, ‘ROYALIST’, at a London Boat Show, turned out to be one of great significance, for in addition to his own invaluable contributions to theTrust, Morin introduced Christopher to Colin Mudie, Colin of course being one of the most innovative Naval architects in the land, especially regarding ‘one-off’ designs. He was, in a word, the perfect answer to designing such an unusual vessel as the ‘LORD NELSON’ was to become .
Many other names could justifiably have been included in this brief account of ‘Beginnings’ – all were vital to the development of what has become a unique and highly successful venture. All, without exception, were part of the team which , almost miraculously it seems, was brought together to put in motion a story of sea-faring which can surely have no equal in maritime history .
Dr Tony Hicklin
Tony is a co-founder of the Jubilee Sailing Trust. He met Christopher Rudd by chance on a beach one day in the mid 1970s. Christopher was teaching sailing and a young girl lost control of her dinghy and ran it up onto the beach. He turned to a man standing beside him and remarked on the incident – only to find that the girl was the man’s daughter. He was Dr Tony Hicklin, consultant in Rheumatology and Rehabilitation at Crawley Hospital. Conversation turned inevitably to the sailing for the disabled – and Tony was hooked. Together they formed a small steering group and gradually decided to go for a larger, square-rigged vessel designed around the width of a wheelchair. They also developed the ethos that the JST is about sailing for all: able-bodied and disabled, young and old alike, sailing side by side as equals.
Tony became the Chairman of the first Steering Committee and the new Board of Trustees after the charity was founded in 1978. His expert contribution was invaluable in the early days of the JST and today he remains a Medical Adviser and an active Trustee.
Jacquetta Cator has been the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s President since 2007. It was she who thought up the name ‘Tenacious’ and officially named the ship at a ceremony presided over by Prince Andrew on 6 April 2000. Jacquetta first became involved in the JST in the early 1980s after encouraging her husband, Francis Cator, to take on the role of Chairman of the Trustees. Francis, as Vice-Chairman of the merchant bankers Schroder Wagg & Co, was a highly respected figure in the City as well as an experienced sailor. Brought up by a mother who overcame serious disability caused by polio in childhood, he had both an understanding of the needs of disabled people and a positive desire to be of practical help. He was a very key figure in raising the funds required to establish the JST as a major charity and build its first ship, Lord Nelson. Francis made the JST his life’s work after he retired from the City, and when he died in 2007, his wife Jacquetta remained deeply involved in order to keep his memory alive in the Trust’s daily life. Jacquetta herself brings her own understanding of disability having worked tirelessly for Riding for the Disabled as well as the JST. The contribution of Francis and Jacquetta to the JST cannot be over-estimated and their inspiration was always to enable as many disabled people to overcome their disabilities and take part in normal life, as Francis’ mother had done.