“Watching Tenacious being built was amazing. All the volunteers, regardless of their ability, were involved in every aspect. I remember vividly, one volunteer who was in a wheelchair and brilliant at power sanding the frames”.
Tom Stewart is a long-term JST supporter, Trustee, Watch Leader trainer and passionate sailor. He sailed on Tenacious’ maiden voyage and has seen countless voyage crew benefit from being onboard.
“During the build of Tenacious, I had the pleasure of attending many boat shows and talking about the incredible ship that was under construction.
It was very exciting being on her maiden voyage back in 2000. We moored up as brass bands were playing – something I’ll always remember. People on the jetty were shocked to see the mixed ability crew disembarking and even more surprised to learn that all who sail on board Tenacious are vital crew members.
Since then, I have so many fantastic memories of sailing on board. I was sailing in Antigua a number of years ago and met Phil, a double amputee who inspired so many when he strapped on knee pads and scaled the mast independently. Then there were the 20 young Costa Ricans that I spent a week on board with – each of them were on a journey, and it was a pleasure to be part of that – particularly in the stunning scenery and beautiful sunshine.
Another memorable voyage was with a guy in a wheelchair who used a computer to speak, his full time carer was a young lady with multicoloured hair. Their relationship was inspiring in itself but one thing he said to me will stick with me he told me: ‘I spend all my life asking for everything. But on Tenacious I feel like I am treated as a normal human being’.
Every person that has sailed on board Tenacious, who has had their life changed, has a network of friends, family, carers and colleagues behind them who have also had their lives changed – because their perceptions of what people can achieve change.
The JST manages risk, they don’t and can’t eliminate it entirely because that is not life. Everyone benefits from being in a challenging environment and the experience of overcoming those challenges is so powerful.
The most important thing about the JST? The Can Do Attitude. You do more than you expect you can or think you want to do. You see someone else do things you didn’t think were possible for them, so you decide to give it a go yourself. Onboard, there is a complete breaking of assumptions – the prejudices and myths that you once held are quashed.
Disability is reframed – in the right environment, in the right circumstances anyone can have adventures and lead an exciting life – anyone can still have the pants scared off them!”