16 AA Bde were given the opportunity to take six of our injured soldier's for a day's sailing on Tenacious, one of two ships owned by the Jubilee Sailing Trust, Pte Meenagh 2 Para, WO2 Hagans 1 R Irish, Pte Kirk 5 Scots, Pte Laws 5 Scots, Sgt Caldwell 3 Para and Cpl Pritchard 5 Scots accompanied by Captain Tom Watson 49 Bde PRU and Carol Browne Wounded, Injured, Sick Co-ord 16 AA Bde HQ.
The day began at 0830hrs from Southampton with bacon butties and coffee on board followed by the safety brief, including how to use the lifts which are on board to get those in wheelchairs, below deck. Then it was down to some serious sailing. The course set for the day took us from Southampton past the Isle of Wight and then back to Southampton. This involved sailing along side the hundreds of yachts which are taking part in Cowes week. An amazing sight to see and also for those on the yachts to have a tall ship in their midst.
The soldiers were given the opportunity to steer the ship, pull plenty of ropes and climb the masts. A task that, for most of us that was slightly challenging, but for Pte Meenagh this was a huge feat. Pte Meenagh, a double amputee, suffered severe injuries when he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan and has been determined to take advantage of the initiatives on offer to injured personnel. His sheer determination, stamina and as he says 'stubbie power’ saw him climb the mast, which was a proud moment for all.
Sgt Caldwell, who also suffered severe injuries in Afghanistan, took charge of the helm supervised by the ship’s Captain Mrs Barbara Campbell. He managed to manoeuvre his way through the numerous yachts and not even so much as near miss. Sgt Caldwell thoroughly enjoyed his day and is now extremely keen to sail again on Tenacious.
The whole day from start to finish was so rewarding for the guys, not only for their rehabilitation but for morale, team building, learning new skills and also testing their motor skills, strength and endurance.
The ship has many adaptations to enable disabled soldier's to experience sailing at its best. After a day spent on board the guys are now keen to extend their knowledge and go on a week long voyage with Tenacious and her crew, the majority of which are made up of volunteers.
This was a huge success and one which will hopefully carry on as an annual event. An awful lot of work goes into organising a day such as this for which the injured personnel are very grateful and I would also like to extend our thanks to the Business/ Rotarian supporters who provided financial support for the day’s events.
Carol Browne Wounded Injured Sick Co-ord 16 AA Bde.