Published: Tuesday, 14th February 2017

Fifty local youngsters will take part in the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta.

This includes five students from Stationers' Crown Woods Academy in Eltham, who are being offered the opportunity of a lifetime to sail on a Tall Ship. This voyage is part of a major transatlantic race that starts in the borough in April. Former pupil Richard Upton generously sponsored these places.

About the Regatta

The group will act as crew on board magnificent Tall Ships travelling to Sines, Portugal on a 15-night voyage, organised by Sail Training International - the first phase of a trip which will eventually sail on to Quebec in Canada, to mark the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.

The youngsters will take part in the Grand Parade of Sail at the end of the free Tall Ships 2017 festival which will take place across two sites in the Borough during the Easter weekend of 13 April to 16 April.

'Remember for the rest of their lives'

Richard Upton, Deputy Chief Executive of specialist regeneration and property developer U+I, returned to Stationers' Crown Woods Academy almost 30 years after he left to meet two of the students he has funded.

"I feel very fortunate to be able to sponsor the group," he said. "The trip will be tough, it'll work them hard, empower them and they will learn a lot. It'll be something that they remember for the rest of their lives and will hopefully be a defining moment for them."

'Building a variety of life skills'

Cllr Denise Scott-McDonald, Cabinet Member for Culture, Creative Industries and Community Wellbeing, said: "I am delighted that so many young people in Royal Greenwich have signed up to take part in this extraordinary opportunity which begins with setting sail from their doorsteps.

"The Tall Ships Trainees will be doing everything from steering at the helm, climbing the rigging and charting the ship's progress along with building a variety of life skills in what will be an unforgettable trip."

Stationers' Crown Woods Academy

David Millar, Executive Principal at Stationers' Crown Woods Academy, added: "This is a fantastic, potentially life-changing, experience for our students and a school-day memory that will last with them forever. I would like to thank Mr Upton and all those involved, for giving them this opportunity."

Pupil Kristian Owen, 17, said: "I'm really excited. I have never done anything like this before so I thought it would be quite interesting and a good experience.

"I will meet new people and learn new skills. My friends and family have been pretty overwhelmed and my nan and granddad said it was an experience of a lifetime."

Eltham Hill School

Nine students from Eltham Hill School will also be taking part in the trip, which will conclude with a crew parade and prize-giving ceremony in Sines before heading back to the UK.

Principal Madeline Griffin said: "I am so envious of them - this an absolutely fantastic opportunity that will really test them, stretch them and give them ambition."