Exploring Our Future, Inspired By Our Past.
200 years ago Captain William Smith, raised the funds to build a state of the art sailing vessel in Blyth and embarked on a voyage to trade around the world. Having been pirated by the Spanish in 1818 he tried to recoup his losses by taking cargo around Cape Horn (the most treacherous seas in the world) and was met by westerly gales. During a desperate attempt to sail around the storms, he discovered the first land in Antarctica, now called the Southern Shetland Islands. Sadly he was never recognised for his discovery and died a pauper. We intend to put him back in his rightful place in history by repeating his voyage and boat building endeavours.
Today Blyth is still suffering 3rd generation unemployment after the collapse of the coal and ship building industries with many young people struggling to identify with their future and aspire to the opportunities that are developing in the port.
The light at the end of the tunnel is the emerging Off Shore and Engineering sector that is growing in the area and the expanding Port of Blyth.
Sadly there is a skills gap between those leaving formal education and these growing businesses.
Back in 2009 an innovative experiment was conducted by the extended services team from Northumberland County Council working with young people identified as likely to become 'NEET' (not in employment, education or training) to see if working on a project to build a small traditional sailing boat could impact the potential for continuing in education. It was a great success and we have extended this innovative and inspirational approach, working with hands on traditional skills, boats and experienced craftsmen to engage a wider audience from 12 to 28 year olds through a variety age appropriate inspirational experiences.
We are now delivering 1 day curriculum benchmarked schools experiences through our partners at the Woodhorn Archive and Dove marine laboratory for 8 to 14 year olds and foundation learning in engineering skills for 14 to 28 year olds, through the medium of heritage boat building, as an inspiration for change.
We are already supplying newly trained young people as apprentices or in to full time jobs in the local engineering and offshore sector with over 20% gaining employment and 40% taking on further learning.
So by combining the heritage experience of reliving Captain William Smith's adventures and working with the growing businesses and the community in Blyth, we hope to see both the community and the unsung hero find new and exciting futures.