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Clipper Race bursary winners to take to the high seas

13 April 2015

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane, Councillor Elisha McCallion, has congratulated the winners  of a Council sponsored bursary scheme which will see four lucky local individuals embark on an exciting sailing adventure with the 2015-16 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

The successful budding seafarers, who were originally expecting to spend four weeks undertaking the crew training experience at Clipper Race HQ near Portsmouth this summer, found out today that they will also receive the once in a lifetime chance of joining the crews for a leg of the epic race.

The local winners have been named as Jilly St John aged 32, Keelin O’ Kane aged 19, David Pollock aged 31 and Conor Shortland aged 22.

The ‘Your Next Chapter’ bursary was open to people aged 18 and over, who are currently unemployed, participating in an employability programme, or in receipt of benefits, and living in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area.

Extending her best wishes as the four bursary recipients gear up for their life-changing challenge the Mayor said the Clipper Race training would provide them with the opportunity to learn a range of core skills that will aid them in both their personal and professional lives.

“This is an exciting adventure that will require our four winners to live at sea, endure the elements and master the ability to sail a yacht. This will be a journey of self discovery during which they will put themselves to the ultimate test physically, emotionally and mentally,” Mayor McCallion said.

The bursary winners will be called upon to rely on their own resolve and, also learn to work as an effective team that can survive at sea and race competitively, explained the Mayor, who added: “Ultimately they will have a great adventure at sea, learn new skills, meet people from accross the world and increase their employability. I would like to wish them the very best of luck as they embark on their new experience and, we look forward with eager anticipation to hearing how they get on in their new seafaring roles.”

Geraldine O hEara, from the Kickstart To Work programme, said the bursary scheme was an excellent opportunity for unemployed people from the council area to take part in a supreme challenge taken on by people from all walks of life with no previous sailing experience.

 ‘Your Next Chapter’ follows the success of a previous bursary project organised by Derry City Council in partnership with the 2011-12 Clipper Round the World Race. Of the five finalists who were selected to sail a leg each of the Race, four secured full-time employment through Derry City Council’s KickStart to Work Intermediary Labour Market Programme.

Legendary yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “When I founded the Clipper Race, my aim was to make sailing accessible to everyone, and help people achieve something extraordinary, so I’m pleased to welcome our ‘Your Next Chapter’ bursary winners Jilly, Conor, Keelin and David on board for the Clipper 2015-16 Race.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to be part of the crew of one of the world’s most unique and challenging adventures, and represent Derry-Londonderry around the world. Not only will the Clipper Race provide an unforgettable life experience, it will also equip them with core life skills such as self-belief, determination, discipline, and excellent team and work ethics - all valuable to help them pursue future career goals and life potential. I wish them all the best with their training and am looking forward to following their adventures.”

The Clipper Race starts on August 30, 2015 and returns to Derry in June next year, marking the city’s third team entry in the international sporting competition, with the Derry-Londonderry-Doire team still to be announced.