The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Norwich church minister takes to the high seas

SimonStokesTenacious2009: A Norwich church minister, who is registered as blind, has today (July 15) taken to the high seas aboard a Tall Ship with both his father and his son for a voyage around Northern Europe.

The Rev Canon Simon Stokes, minister of Bowthorpe, who is visually imparied, will help crew the the ship along with his father Colin and son James.

Sailing with the Southampton-based Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST), Rev Stokes and his family have joined a crew of 40 volunteer sailors for a voyage from Canary Wharf in London to Southampton via northern Europe.

SimonStokesTenacious2Although registered blind for the past 13 years, Rev Stokes is not going along merely for the ride because the JST is the only organisation in the world that takes physically disabled and able bodied crew members to sea aboard two specially designed tall ships, Lord Nelson and Tenacious. The unique design of the ships means that everyone sails as crew and has an equal role to play.

The ten-day voyage sails to the Netherlands, Belgium or France before setting course for a July 24 arrival in Southampton.

Rev Stokes will be sailing as a ‘watch leader’ he will supervise a ‘watch’ of 9 people of all physical abilities. Not only this but he will be involved in almost every activity aboard including setting sails, helming and even cleaning the ship, affectionately known as ‘Happy Hour’.

SimonStokesDogWebEquipment aboard such as a talking compass will enable Rev Stokes to sail the ship as effectively as someone without a visual impairment.

“I’ve now sailed with the JST a number of times but never with so many family members. The sense of exhilaration I get working out on the yard arms keeps me going back time after time.”

He continued: “Having lost my sight I can’t skipper my own boat, so sailing with the JST is the closest thing to it. As a watch leader I am able offer guidance and support to people, just as I do in my day job – it’s fantastic!”

Anyone over the age of 16 can sail with the Jubilee Sailing Trust regardless of physical ability or previous sailing experience. For more information on how you or someone you know can get involved contact the JST voyages department on 023 8044 9108 or email info@jst.org.uk  


Pictured above is Rev Simon Stokes aboard the Tall Ship Tenacious and with his guide dog Trigger.

., 15/07/2009

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