As the NHS in the United Kingdom celebrates turning 70 years old, we wanted to share the brilliant story of one of our watch leader and volunteer’s and pay tribute to this country’s incredible healthcare services.

Geoffrey Bragg is a retired aircraft engineer – an experience and skills which have come in handy on our ships during maintenance periods! He’s helped out many times over the last 10 years, but this was only possible thanks to the life changing support he received from the NHS and Spire Healthcare.

Here is Geoff’s story, in his own words.

“I heard of the Jubilee Sailing Trust quite a few years ago and thought I could put my sailing experience to good use. I was also excited at the thought of working on tall ships and helping people with disabilities to enjoy it too. Later I discovered my aircraft engineer skills came in handy. I have been out to sea with the crew but mostly I carry out maintenance tasks from the shore at Southampton.

“The joke is that engineers don’t like sunlight because they often work below decks. But when I am not volunteering with the Jubilee Sailing Trust, I’m frequently out in the fresh air, cycling long distances with my friends. But none of this would be possible if I hadn’t had a hip replacement.

“I’d had a cycling accident about seven years ago when I hit black ice. Over time, arthritis in my hip took hold, restricting my movement. I found it painful just getting on and off my bike and could only do short rides leading up to my operation. It also impacted on my volunteer work. I drive elderly people to social events in Horsham twice a month but getting in and out of a car was proving move and more difficult.

“And I was struggling to help with the Jubilee Sailing Trust. You need to be a contortionist to do some of the maintenance work, crawling around in the engine room. Without the hip operation I wouldn’t have been able to continue. As an NHS patient, I was able to choose my surgeon and plumped for Mr Khalid Drabu at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital in Horley. The operation took place on November 24, 2016 and the whole thing was unbelievable. I am grateful to the NHS and the staff at Spire Gatwick Park – I couldn’t speak

highly enough of them.

“When I woke up in recovery, the nurse told me my actual operation only took about half an hour – how Mr Drabu and his team did that I don’t know. I was so determined to get back on my bike and be able to volunteer again that after the operation I followed the physiotherapy advice to the letter. It was a great day when, eight weeks later, I was
able to go for a short first ride. Within six months, I was doing 100-mile rides again. And I have been able to continue working on the tall ships, pain-free. I enjoy it, not just because of the work, but there is a great social scene to it.

“It is wonderful that everyone depends on each either to get the ship ready for sailing – it’s a great way of team building. I am so glad I now have a flexible hip so that I can carry on volunteering with the JST and am looking forward to working on the Tenacious soon.”

Thank you to Geoff and the team at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital for sharing this inspiring story. This summer we are fundraising not only to help others like Geoff experience the joy and inclusivity of sailing on our ships, but to help these maintenance periods that keep the ships in ship shape condition for everyone to enjoy.

Please donate by visiting this fundraising page: