Charity awarded £600,000 lottery funding as Blyth Tall Ship returns from voyage around Britain

The Blyth Tall Ship charity welcomed back 100-year-old Williams II from its seven week voyage around Britain, as it celebrated being awarded £636,600 in Lottery funding.

Skipper of the ship, Liz King, told ITV News Tyne Tees the trip gave her crew a unique experience, adding: "It gives people a sense of teamwork and it builds people together, so that they can accomplish tasks that they wouldn’t probably dream of if they were just doing it individually.

"It gives people a great sense of wellbeing out there in the fresh air."

The National Lottery Heritage Fund donation will be used for the Blyth Heritage Community Response project, which aims to improve people's skills and wellbeing.

Clive Gray, the chief executive of Blyth Tall Ship, told ITV News Tyne Tees: "We’re going to work in a really engaged way over a period of time with over 350 people over the next two years.

"It’s small groups. It’s friendly. There’s no pressure, but it’s interesting stuff that they just wouldn’t get anywhere else."

The coastal town of Blyth in Northumberland is in the top 10 per cent of most deprived areas in the UK, has high unemployment and with many of its residents impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the project aims to provide entry level group activities to develop their skills and improve their own wellbeing and employability.

Blyth Tall Ship, The Williams II Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Astrid Adams, a volunteer who has taken two courses in gansey knitting and singing shanty songs, said the project broadens people's horizons.

She said: "They found that they could really sing well in a group when they didn’t have confidence to sing by themselves and the knitting, it gave some people in the group so much confidence, they went out of it feeling so much more confident, not just about knitting, but about being in a social group again, which they hadn’t been able to do for so long."

George Clark-Elford is an apprentice at Blyth Tall Ship and does woodwork in the workshop, building boats and ships. He said the skills he has learned have been invaluable.

He said: "You can go into the workshop and take a plane and plane this down and then it’s just all about how you go about things and how you fix things and it’s a fantastic experience, really."

The charity's newest project will focus on those who are vulnerable due to lower levels of mental or physical health, those who are unemployed and those who are directed to the project via social prescribing initiative.

The project aims to make a positive difference for people of all ages in Blyth.