Two Norfolk youth workers went full circle when they took part in a sail training expedition together.

In 1999 community police officer, Mike Blakey, took a group of Norfolk school boys sailing with the sail training charity, The Norfolk Boat.  One of the boys, Michael Sturman, was so inspired by the voyage and by Mike’s leadership that he became a youth worker himself and 13 years later he organised a similar trip with a group from children’s home, Avocet House near Hales. Michael made sure that his former mentor, Mike, was able to accompany the group.

“There was never any doubt who I would ask to go with me on my first sailing trip as group leader” said Michael Sturman.

Mike Blakey said,   “I was very pleased with the way Michael conducted himself and how well he managed the whole occasion. In fact he performed incredibly well throughout the whole of the planning and management of the voyage. It was a bit of a landmark for me to see his progression from being a 14 year old participant to becoming a responsible and professional leader managing a group of challenging young people. Maybe I am now redundant but, as we often say of Norfolk Boat; “that’s what it’s all about!”

Sending three boys sailing on the North Sea for a week was a first for Avocet House but part of their ‘no limits’ approach to the education and personal development of their young people. All young sailors are apprehensive on their first voyage but for James, Robbie and Norman more so as it was a significant step outside their comfort zones. The results, however, were amazing with each of the boys gaining high levels of confidence and trust and each taking home an RYA certificate as evidence of their new found skills. Also accompanying the boys was youth worker, Chloe Hazell.

Norman summed up his experience by saying, “I enjoyed being alongside the crew and feeling wanted at last. … even though I found it tough at times, I gritted my teeth and fought through to the end.”


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