The 14th March marks the 7 year anniversary at JST of Sara, our Head of Fundraising. Originally based in the Southampton office, Sara began working from home in 2018. Here are 7 questions and 7 photos to find out more about her time with us:
Q.1: What made you apply for a job at JST?
I’d been having a great time working at sea on various tall ships and other vessels for 10 years or so, but I needed to move ashore to bring about some stability. I’d heard about how unique JST was, and knew I’d love to be involved somehow. A vacancy came up in the Operations department and I applied, but was devastated to hear they’d already filled it. Two weeks later I got a call asking if I’d be interested in applying for an Administrator position in Fundraising – writing to Trusts & Foundations. I had a 3 hour interview (a great way to spend my birthday), and here I am today!
‘Repairs on the go’ after ripping one of the bow’s inflatable tubes on a submerged lobster pot as we were trying to exit a quickly-draining harbour in one of Lord Nelson’s small boats following a shore visit during LN898 (Southampton – Antwerp). Thanks to the ingenuity of our officers, BMs and Cadets (I seem to remember it was BM Ben’s good idea) we managed to raise the tear above the waterline and slowly drag/motor back to the ship (once the water was deep enough again). Captain Richard was not impressed but would have been even less impressed if he’d known we’d stopped for a photo! Seven people in muddy boat gear are gathered around a small black inflatable boat with a crumpled bow which is being pulled up by ropes leading up to a wooden paddle as a tension point. Behind them is a fishing boat against a harbour wall. The keel of the fishing boat is out of the water, resting on the mud bed, as it is a ‘drying’ harbour, affected by the tide.
Q. 2: How has your job changed over the years?
I started working on reporting and small-scale applications to funders, but soon took on managing almost the full pipeline of over £500k p.a. That was life for 6 years, but of course a lot has happened very quickly over the past 12 months: I became Head of Fundraising in June 2022, and then became 1/3rd of the Joint Executive Team in August 2022. These days my role is much more varied than it used to be – when I’m not in meetings with Jon, Tanya, the Masters, or the Board I’m talking to our volunteers, partners or donors, discussing events with branch members, helping field general voyage questions, checking in with Ship Ops to find out what we need and who might be able to help with that, or working on our comms and media content. Despite sometimes feeling that there are never enough hours in the day, I love that I am now so much more involved in all aspects of the JST.
Photo 2 Description:
Christmas as one of the four Bosun’s Mates on LN909 in the Canaries, 2016. Four women in red tops are standing together, smiling, with an island and rigging behind them. Three are wearing Christmas hats.
Q. 3: What has been your biggest achievement?
In terms of fundraising, I’d say it was securing a £270k grant for our ‘Leading Forces’ project in 2017 which provided 75% funding for all associated voyage costs for c.240 Service Personnel to sail with us. It’s the largest grant I’ve brought in, and I still remember the shock when I received the phone call to let me know we’d been successful! However, working with my colleagues to develop the new Strategy that was accepted by the Board and is now in place is also a major achievement.
A photo of a cheque from one of our funders to support our onboard volunteers. Three of said lovely volunteers are stood with three office staff on the stern of Lord Nelson, wearing very varied attire (some are in office clothes, others in shorts, t-shirts, winter coats, sunglasses, overalls or high-vis). Behind them is a Ferry.
Q. 4: What’s the best part of your job?
Knowing that I’m working for something I’m passionate about and that has helped shape me into the person I am today, as well as hearing the stories of countless others who have also benefited. Being allowed to jump onboard occasionally isn’t bad either!
Photo 4 Description:
A selfie from Lord Nelson, for the very wet start to the Cator Trophy in 2018 with Tenacious and a pilot boat in the rainy grey background.
Q. 5: What is one major challenge you’ve faced?
Fundraising in the current financial climate, especially following a large and very public fundraising appeal, continues to be a real challenge. We are so appreciative of everyone that chooses to support us in whatever way they can. Thank you.
Photo 5 Description:
A selfie in front of Tenacious alongside during a very sunny Cowes Week 2022, complete with sunglasses tan lines.
Q. 6: If you could do one voyage with JST, what would it be?
I’d love to sail around Cape Horn, a voyage surely on anyone’s sailing bucket list – I am very envious of the JST crews who did this in either 2014 or 2018!
Photo 6 Description:
Working from the ship during a talk by the 3rd Officer in the Lower Mess, in September 2022. The tables are filled with voyage crew paying lots of attention, whilst I sit to the side with my laptop and stack of envelopes as I write lots of letters.
Q. 7: What’s your favourite memory of the last 7 years with JST?
My last voyage in September 2022 was amazing. We went from Great Yarmouth to Portland, Dorset, (via Dartmouth), but I wasn’t in the regular watch system as it was during our Covid Recovery Campaign and I had so much admin to keep on top of – when signal allowed! Both the permanent and voyage crew really went out of their way to involve me in everything, regardless of being slightly apart from everyone. I met some truly wonderful people and had so much fun, it’s my favourite voyage yet and the uniqueness of it means it will never be paralleled!
Photo 7 Description: On the bowsprit netting with two of my recent lovely shipmates from TNS614, Great Yarmouth to Portland, 2022.