A superyacht captain in the making was one of the main attractions as Isle-of-Wight based maritime youth charity, UKSA, let its beneficiaries do the talking at a recent donor event in London.
Brendan Kearley (25) was one of six young ambassadors at the event in Parliament’s newest building, Portcullis House, who were quizzed by the 100-strong audience (made up of leading figures and supporters from the superyacht, corporate, local government and charity sectors) on how UKSA’s youth development programmes helped turn around and transform their lives.
He has recently been granted a £2,000 bursary towards a Superyacht Crew Training course following a successful ‘Change Direction’ programme. It’s a unique four-week course for 16 to 24s seeking to move off benefits and into employment – and involves a two week residential at UKSA’s Cowes HQ made up of marine industry workshops, followed by two weeks of hands-on work experience with maritime organisations. 82% of all participants to date have moved into some form of work or training.
Brendan explains: “At the Change Direction selection day a presentation given by an ex-UKSA student who was working on super yachts, inspired me to realise a career I could follow whilst still pursuing my dream to travel the world. The course turned my life around and since completing it I have returned to UKSA on a weekly basis as a volunteer for their Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.
“Thanks to UKSA I was given the amazing opportunity of being a member of crew on-board Gipsy Moth IV for the annual ‘Round the Island Race’ (placing 16th of 30 in the classics) and have just been awarded the £2,000 Stephen Thomas Bursary established to offer professional yacht career training to those who would otherwise not be able to afford it.
“It has enabled me to start the revered Superyacht Crew Training Course at UKSA, which will hopefully enable me to gain employment around the world, but I will always be a willing ambassador for the organisation, its fantastic facilities and unique opportunities it offers.”
By 2017, UKSA aims to have an additional 3,500 young beneficiaries per year and is looking to raise an additional £3million a year to fund these ambitious plans, as well as securing capital funding to invest in its Cowes HQ and a new permanent facility in the Lee Valley.