Wednesday 17th May was a very special day for Children’s Sailing Trust, as we welcomed Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh to our headquarters at Trevassack Lake, just outside of Helston on the Lizard Peninsula.
It took months of careful planning and security detail to ensure all ran smoothly on the day but the hard work was worth it as staff delighted in introducing HRH to the work of the charity.
A small contingency of invited guests were privileged to join in the proceedings, including the Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall, Colonel E T Bolitho OBE, and newly sworn in High Sheriff of Cornwall, Toby Ashworth, owner of Nare Hotel; current and past trustees who were instrumental in the development of the new facilities at Trevassack Lake, volunteers and staff members.
2022 marked the 25th year of providing local children with sailing opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to take part in. Through spending time out on the water with their peers, young people learn skills that help them in all aspects of life; confidence, competence, resilience and critical thinking. Whether or not they choose to continue on towards further qualifications, each child comes away with a sense of pride and achievement.
The charity relies heavily on grants and donations in order to cover running costs of operating subsidised Helford River sailing courses as well as continue providing these amazing experiences for young people for another 25 years. Therefore, the development of Trevassack Lake, which opened after pandemic delays in late October 2021, is a forward-thinking strategy to ensure financial stability for the Trust while benefitting the local community.
All ages and abilities are welcome at Trevassack, with the whole site being developed to be as inclusive and accessible as possible, with hoists and adapted craft allowing our experienced staff to help people with disabilities to get out on the water. The location is unique and jaw-dropping – first time visitors always have the same, amazed reaction when they round the corner from the car park and the ex serpentine quarry opens up before them. It’s still a beautifully natural location, with an array of bird life swooping the 10-acres of freshwater – plus it’s a chemical-free site, so no noisy engines or smelly petrol to disturb the environment with everything run on solar, underwater-source heat pumps or electric.
Local schoolchildren were engaged in watersports activities on the lake, having opportunity to meet HRH and show her their newly acquired skills, along with Holly Martin, a local girl who grew up learning to sail on the Helford River with the Trust and is now using sailing at Trevassack to help recover from a traumatic brain injury.
On arrival at the free car park, the Lord Lieutenant greeted the most honourable guests and they, along with the Civic VIPs were escorted down the mobility-friendly pathway to meet Deborah Lawson, Accommodation Manager, who presented the first of six exclusive holiday properties on site, lakeside Bradbury House along with Hugh Inman from the Bradbury Foundation that funded the building. Bradbury House is available to rent through Trevassack Holidays and is a high dependency home-from-home that is so well designed, you wouldn’t know it has clinical necessities. But you do notice the incredible location on the lake, best viewed from the sunken hot tub on the private deck. Deborah explained the massive impact the place has had for those who have stayed, from families with a wheelchair user, to end-of-life memories for terminally ill people. A recent guest said it made her husband with MS feel like he could be less reliant on his wife for the first time in years and HRH appeared suitably impressed.
Her Royal Highness had the unique experience of touring the lake on ‘Floaty’, the trust’s one-of-a-kind, solar-powered accessible platform that allows groups of all ages and abilities, including their mobility equipment, to get out on the water.
All VIPs donned suitable buoyancy aids before enjoying a guided tour of the 10 acre lake, gliding past people in sail boats and kayaks. On board with HRH was one of CST’s favourite student sailors, Olivia, a gorgeous young lady with Downs Syndrome who was as enthusiastic as ever to get on the ‘boat’, along with her mum Helen, who talked about how different CST is to other outdoor activity centres and tourist attractions. Livvy was very proud to show people her picture on the front of our Annual Review publication!
The tour continued back on dry land, around the lakeside Learning Centre and cafe, to the accessible beach, where primary-aged children from nearby Garras School were engaged in rope knots and other land-based learning after their sailing session on the water. HRH seemed genuinely happy to interact with the youngsters, who were excited to show her what they had achieved with pride.
The visit climaxed with a presentation by CEO, Jakie Jewell, introducing the staff and trustees who had made all this happen, before HRH ceremoniously unveiled our handmade plaque to commemorate her visit which celebrates 25 years of CST. A sublime light lunch was enjoyed in the cafe, run by Cornish Food Hub, with polite chit-chat between mouthfuls of locally-sourced produce. And then the whirlwind was over! HRH and her entourage said their gracious goodbyes and drove away, hopefully filled with the passion and goodwill of everyone they met on this special May day.
The children of Garras school squealed as they swapped stories of who said what with a member of the Royal Family, something they’ll remember for a long time, and the staff at Trevassack Lake felt proud.
If nothing else this was a brilliant way to remind themselves and others of what has actually been achieved here, and what impact the charity will have on countless others in the future, with the continued support of the local community and those who work so hard to bring the vision to life.
With thanks to all who worked so hard to make the day happen, from our wonder woman CEO, to volunteers cleaning up after lake wildlife, to our favourite photographer, Adam Gibbard for documenting the day.