It would be fair to say that James was pretty reluctant to join our group voyaging on Johanna Lucretia; he was anxious about the boat and the sailing itself and whether he would be scared or feel sick. James’ parents and I all felt it an opportunity for him to be active, focus on new skills and develop his communication and (hopefully) leadership skills.

At school James can find it difficult to focus, avoid distraction and be positive about learning. He also finds some elements of peer interaction tricky to master and has therefore found being part of a team quite challenging.

Our voyage this May changed all that for James within the first evening of being on board. He instantly loved the boat and couldn’t wait to get out to sea – he says he was very relieved that she was as big as she is!

Once he knew his quarters and what was expected of him James got stuck into all the chores that came his way. He was happy and enthusiastic, never got disheartened even when it was really windy or the jobs involved cleaning the heads! He relished the deck washing and was always first to offer to go below and help prep lunch or to take the helm or learn how to navigate.

Incredibly, and most excitingly for me as his teacher, he also began to encourage the others and made a concerted effort to converse with them, help them and even lead the younger ones. I only reminded James once during the entire week about maintaining his focus – a record for us!

It is safe to say that we would be unlikely to have been privy to the grown up version of James at this stage of his life if he hadn’t been sailing on Johanna Lucretia.

James’ parents and I would like to express our huge thanks and gratitude to all who made this the experience of a lifetime for him.

Fiona Dunckley
Head of PE
Duke of Edinburgh Award Co-ordinator
The Park School