It is hard to comprehend that it is a year to the day since Tenacious docked in Barry bringing to a close our last public voyage.
Having taken over as CEO of JST on January 1, 2020 I was still getting to grips with the new role when the pandemic forced the trustees and I to make the decision to bring Tenacious and all on board back from Antigua rather than head for a lucrative spring and summer in the Mediterranean.
We were so relieved that everyone got home safe and well and Covid free as the UK was in lockdown. No one imagined that we would still be experiencing social restrictions.
With the roadmaps to freedom now easing we are so looking forward to getting back to welcoming our voyage crew to JST sailing. With a busy voyage programme ahead we are looking forward to seeing old and new friends on board in June.
As many of you are aware we have been busy ensuring that JST continues to progress to protect and deliver our mission. In our four decades plus of existence we have never experienced anything like the last year but what we have seen is the extraordinary devotion and support of all in the JST family. Your commitment to us has been so strong and so welcome.
You have shared with us stories of how your lives have been changed by the pandemic, how you’ve suffered the pain and worries of losing loved ones, of the hardship of being separated from grandparents, parents, siblings. You’ve spoken of your deep concerns of the mental health issues being brought about by loneliness and social isolation, your concerns for the young disrupted from their schooling or academic life, those who have lost their jobs and people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Above all you have been in touch to remind us of the huge difference JST voyages make to so many people from all walks of life experiencing difficulty and how our work must continue.
Your support through the last year has enabled us to celebrate Tenacious’ 20th birthday by raising funds to take her through her five year special survey, to give our wonderful volunteers in our branches the greater attention they deserve and to break new ground by hosting sea and leadership training through this January to April for the Royal Navy, and so much more.
The work with the Royal Navy has taught us much about how to make Tenacious as safe as possible during the pandemic. Restricting numbers on board and operating a strict Covid testing regime and excellent team-work from our crew and the Royal Navy has enabled us to be confident that we are ready to welcome our voyage crew on board.
We all know that society is making gentle steps forward and that there will be many concerns ahead but with your continued help we will progress.
We look forward to hearing more from you all and to welcoming our voyage crew back on board.
Thank you for all you do for us.