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Be Inspired – read Jess’ story

It’s very difficult to describe the effect that Jess had on board Lord Nelson in Auckland earlier this year. Very hard indeed. The reason many of us were on that trip was to be wowed by the stunning coastline of New Zealand and captivated by the Bay of Islands. As it happened, they played second fiddle to a sixteen-year-old girl who surprised everyone.

Jess is blind. She has a condition called Septo Optic Dysplasia. She has also never sailed before. Or done anything remotely as adventurous as become part of the crew working on a tall ship. She received bursary funding to come on the voyage and was put forward by the special needs department at her school.

As the crew began to mix over the first few days, it became very clear that Jess was a sweet, interesting, engaging young lady.

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She was patient and trusting and helped wonderfully by her young buddy, Simone. Around the same time, whispers began to circulate that Jess was planning to climb the mast, which is not an unusual part of the JST sailing experience and, as with all of the crew on board, it is something of a right of passage. So, while we were alongside in Opua, Jess got fitted with a harness and off she went. I can tell you that there wasn’t a person in the vicinity who wasn’t utterly astounded with the way Jess approached that climb. Not only did she have an unforgettable look of determination as she took each step, but in between each of these she smiled the truest smile I have ever seen. It was an absolute pleasure to watch and is an experience that will stay with me, ready to be recalled, whenever my own resolve is waining. Fortunately, you don’t have to take my word for it, as there is a video that captures everything. Please watch it here and please keep giving to the JST, a wonderful charity that helps fund places for incredible people like Jess.

“I may not have my eyes, but I’m still an adventurer” – Jess

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