A couple of weeks ago, we were very excited to officially celebrate Challenge Wales’ fifth birthday at the Senedd, Cardiff Bay with almost 100 guests.
We’ve never had a birthday event before but for this one we decided to push the boat out (no pun intended!); a recognisable and iconic Welsh landmark fitted the bill for a very Welsh charity.
Some of our volunteers, young people and supporters came along to make it a really special event. Celebrating our birthday was really important for us, enabling the Challenge Wales charity to look back at what had been achieved but also to formally give recognition and thanks to the volunteers for their commitment, without which Challenge Wales wouldn’t have made it past a first birthday!
The event was sponsored by Vaughan Gething, Assembly Member who said a few words (really nice ones too!). Paul Glaze, CEO of CWVYS (Council of Wales Voluntary Youth Services) talked about the part Challenge Wales was positively playing in the Youth Work Sector in Wales while Lucy Gross, General Manager of ASTO (Association of Sail Training Organisations) said a few words about how Challenge Wales is a life-enhancing opportunity for Welsh young people. Even the Challenge Wales boat had come across the bay, moored outside the Senedd, and flying the flag.
Vicky Williams, Chair of the Challenge Wales board of trustees felt it important to stress the benefits of sail training at the event; “What Challenge Wales does is cross generational, cross cultural and aims to improve the employment prospects of young people through developing teamwork, discipline and communication skills. Young people can suffer from a poverty of ambition and Challenge Wales offers the opportunity to break that cycle, they are our ambassadors of the future”.
Challenge Wales has had a lot to celebrate over the last five years, a significant highlight of which was being the official sailing vessel representing Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan and the Youth of Wales in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the Thames in 2012. And, since 2009 Challenge Wales volunteers have donated over 30,000 hours of their time with almost 1000 young people having sailed on Challenge Wales since the first voyage.
And, what’s to come for 2014? We’ll be sharing lots of details about our voyages in our blog this year but we are particularly excited about heading to Glasgow and being part of the once in a lifetime Commonwealth [Games] Flotilla, taking part in Tall Ships Racing from Falmouth to Royal Greenwich in the summer against young people from all over the world, working with visually impaired young people as part of our ‘Turning the Tide’ project and welcoming hundreds of people onboard the boat for day and residential activities. And, the icing on the proverbial birthday cake is that our bursary scheme** to subsidise young people (under 26 years) will continue throughout 2014!!
Happy Birthday Challenge Wales!
If you are a youth group leader, young person, company or adult wanting to get involved with Challenge Wales then please get in touch.
** The Challenge Wales bursary scheme subsidises young people aged 12 – 25 years depending on eligibility and can cover 50 – 100% of voyage costs.