A voyage can have life changing effects on a person. One example of this was Nik’s experience when he first sailed on board Tenacious.
Cerebral Palsy is commonly caused through starvation of oxygen at birth. It impacts people in various ways. Nik’s Cerebral Palsy affects his speech, balance and co-ordination. At the age of 29, Nik’s Cerebral Palsy relapsed. He lost movement from the neck down which seriously affected his ability to walk, speak or communicate. It took Nik 18 months to walk again, and he now often needs to use a wheelchair. His relapse aged 29 meant he was unable to work, and so he had to give up the job he loved so much.
‘Most people know when they reach 21 how their Cerebral Palsy will affect them for the rest of their life, but my Cerebral Palsy has got worse since 21. The damage in my brain has spread due to a secondary head injury. I have times when I have spasms and lose the use of my arms as well as my legs; we call these relapses. I have lost all movement from the neck down three times and I don’t know when my next relapse may strike? After a relapse, when I was 29, I have been unable to work again. Not being able to work, has made me feel useless. It’s not just been down to my condition; I feel that society has written me off.
Since then I have had to prove myself again and again. I only ever wanted to be equal to everyone else. So many people in my life have told me that I “can’t” or that “it’s not possible”. I have always wanted to be given a chance. If I am given a chance I believe I can achieve anything.
In 2009 I became the world’s first indoor climbing instructor with Cerebral Palsy. I wanted to do this to try to overcome the limits that my disability sets me. People have called me inspiring and brave. Am I? At the end of the day, I am trying to get on with a condition that I was born with. I wonder sometimes what people mean when they say brave and inspiring. I am someone who just wants to try and have a go at things. I only want to be as equal as everybody else, but, as you can imagine, many people have had their reservations about me teaching people to climb. I often feel like I don’t fit in and opportunities are not open to me.
At quite a low point I found out about the Jubilee Sailing Trust. A friend introduced me and I booked on my first voyage on board Tenacious, sailing from Southampton to Saint-Malo, France. I really was nervous about joining the crew as I did not know what to expect. I was worried, like in everything else, I would not fit in. However by the end of the first evening I had already made new friends and was happy to be on board Tenacious.
As the week went on I realised that I was fitting in perfectly. I was enjoying making new friends and having a laugh with people I had only met a few days ago. I also loved the feeling of being at sea. I really enjoyed having responsibility on board; being given jobs. Whether that was the important job steering the ship or simply folding tea towels in the galley, the point was I had responsibility and things to do instead of sitting feeling useless or being at home doing nothing.
As my time on board went on my confidence grew to the point where, with the Jubilee Sailing Trust, I am equal to everybody else. I cannot express how amazing that is.
The voyage with the Jubilee Sailing Trust has completely changed my life. On board, I know that I fit in and that there are people who see me for me and not for my disability. I knew in my heart that I could not just leave, say thank you and goodbye. I felt and still feel that I want to do more voyages and spread the word about the JST. So many people in situations like mine can have their lives changed. I am hoping to sail again and help the Jubilee Sailing Trust in any way I can, as it’s one of the only places that I can live as an equal to everyone else rather than just exist.’
Generous donors like you have enabled Nik to sail with the JST, giving him in his own words “the chance to live, not just exist”
There are BIG plans afoot for the JST this year, which you can be a part of. With Lord Nelson continuing to change lives in her home waters, Tenacious will set sail to Australia as part of a Pacific Rim tour, visiting the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Southern Pacific islands and Australasia before commencing her passage back home.
This adventure builds on Lord Nelson’s Sail the World legacy, attracting new people to our work, and marking an exciting new phase in the history of the JST, as we expand the reach and impact of our mission further than ever before. That’s why we need your help.
You can give people, like Nik, who would otherwise not have the opportunity to sail with us, the chance to embark upon a life- changing adventure of their very own aboard our two very special tall ships.
We have new voyage crew, just like Nik desperate for funding, standing by. By donating today you are reaching out to those who have previously not been given a chance.
Please give generously today to change the lives of those, like Nik, who are most in need. For as little as £25 you can help fund someone like Nik who’s waiting to come on board right now. That’s one life changed, entirely because of you.
Please share this appeal with as many of your family, friends and networks as you can. By doing this you will help increase awareness of the amazing work we do and raise more funds for the ships. Thank you for any donation you are able to give towards this appeal. It is hugely appreciated.