Simon Mace, Operations Manager at Horizons Plymouth Children’s Sailing Charity is delighted with a very generous charitable donation from the Devonport Royal Dockyard Sport & Social Club. “We were hoping for a grant of about £1,000 to help fund our activity, but they asked if we needed anything bigger!”  

Horizons is run with a youth club attitude/atmosphere. It runs from March to November on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings, introducing young people to sailing, and giving them a chance to build confidence, socialise and sail its large fleet of boats, learning the intricacies of dinghy/small keelboat sailing. By working with young people in need of support, it helps those most at risk, taking them away from the path of negativity and anti-social behaviour, as well as providing a safe place where they can escape, forget about their day-to-day pressures and ultimately have fun. It also opens doors into employment by offering nationally-recognised training courses allowing people to become qualified instructors.  

Simon had invited members of the DRD Sport & Social Club to see the charity at work, because the Club offers grants to support grass roots sport. He was hoping to get a contribution towards buying a multihull boat, so that Horizons could offer a broader range of training to grow club membership and increase the number of regular participants in the 14-25 age group and those with additional needs.

“We told them we wanted to encourage youngsters aged 14-plus to stay on, and also to give the less agile cadets the opportunity to get out of a keelboat and into a stable dinghy. The idea was to encourage them experience the thrills of sailing a smaller boat.”  

The DRD Sport & Social Club visitors were clearly impressed with the club sailing session they saw, because, rather than making a contribution, they offered to buy the boat. They purchased an ex-demo RS Cat 16, complete with trailer, cover and sails, for around £9,000 and presented it to Horizons.  

“We were amazed!” said Simon. “They really did mean bigger – it’s one of the biggest sponsorships they’ve given out for a long time. The RS Cat 16 has the options of trapezes and spinnakers, so it broadens our offering by giving opportunities to all, from beginners to advanced, on one multihull. And because two of us were already qualified as multihull instructors, we were ready to teach as soon as the boat arrived.”  

Brian Legassick, Chairman of the DRD Sport & Social Club, added: “The DRD Sport & Social Club have been sponsoring grass roots sport for many years. The level of sponsorship is dealt with on a case by case request. We look at how many children will benefit from our sponsorship, what benefit they will get, and how long will our sponsorship last, and we also consider what the group are doing to help themselves. When we considered Horizons, two of the team visited to see first-hand to how they operated, how they were financed and how long it would take them to reach their goal of buying a new catamaran. We considered that the new faster vessel would encourage the children as they progressed in their sailing ability, to stay longer and learn new skills. We could see the project had many benefits and longevity.  

“The DRD Sport & Social Club Executives discussed all the merits and instead of donating towards the new boat decided it would like to fund the whole project to benefit many children in the future.”  

Horizons will be running an RYA Push The Boat Out event on Saturday, 11 May, when existing members are being encouraged to bring a friend to try sailing, and dress up as pirates in support of the Plymouth Pirate Weekend.