Type Charity for serving personnel and veterans
Location Cornwall
Grant amount £30,000
Date March 2015
Website www.turntostarboard.co.uk

How the charity helps Working Age - Veterans

Turn to Starboard uses Royal Yachting Association (RYA) sailing courses to support Armed Forces personnel that have been affected by military operations, using the established therapeutic effects of sailing and the sea. The focus is on resettlement, reintegration, reinforcing a sense of value and belonging, and ensuring that the true friendship that Service personnel know continues long after their Service career.  

They help those retired from the forces and those still serving to get perspective on past events and focus on a successful future.

Beneficiaries gain tangible experiences, expert training and career-building opportunities including the chance to gain internationally recognised marine qualifications.

Their wide-ranging support doesn’t just stop at the individual, it also supports them through the wider network of their family and friends.

Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity grant

In 2015, Turn to Starboard approached The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity for funding and, working in partnership with The Royal Marines Charity, were approved a grant of £30,000 in March 2015. The grant helped fund the Zero to Hero Yachtmaster Development Programme and offer opportunities on Spirit of Falmouth. 

Zero to Hero Yachtmaster Development Programme

‘Zero to Hero’ is an opportunity for those who are finding it difficult to establish a positive path for their future.  In a supportive and understanding environment, they provide flexible expert tuition and mentor support to help those serving or retired individuals achieve an internationally recognised marine qualification.  Their aim is to support their beneficiaries back into civilian life and help them find meaningful employment in the marine industry.

Opportunities on Spirit of Falmouth

Spirit of Falmouth is their 92ft wooden gaff-rigged Schooner.  With eighteen berths on board, various opportunities exist including day sailing and longer trips to locations like the Isles of Scilly.  Spirit requires a bit of working together to make her go forward so the emphasis is on leadership and teamwork with a chance to spend some time with those who understand about returning from operations.

Steve, Rich and Dan - Turn to Starboard beneficiaries

Steve, Rich and Dan are all good  examples of the great work Turn to Starboard do as all were wounded whilst serving for the Royal Marines but have now been able to start new careers in the maritime industry.

Following medical discharge from the Royal Marines, Steve, Dan and Rich, gained internationally recognised qualifications (up to RYA Yachtmaster Cruising Instructor) to increase their employability and potential for a choice of careers in the maritime industry.

Rich Birchall, 32, served in the Royal Marines for 14 years until he was medically discharged with a back injury in 2013. He thought his recovery would take a couple of months, yet after two years of physiotherapy, he’s now awaiting surgery. On top of his life-changing injury, Rich had to consider his future career and what that meant for him and his family.

I only jumped from a height of around six foot, but I landed with straight legs and had around 40 pound of kit on my back. It didn’t end well. After the accident, I was at my lowest and having some pretty sinister thoughts about how to get out of this situation. I initially tried an IT job, but sat in a windowless office typing on a computer after a lifetime outdoors simply didn’t suit me.

Rich was soon introduced to Turn to Starboard and is now working towards his Yachtmaster Offshore qualification as well as being employed in a full-time position as the Bosun of tall ship ‘Spirit’. His military experience in mechanical engineering proved invaluable on his journey to Offshore Yachtmaster.

Another former Royal Marine who understands the pressures of returning to civilian life after a neck injury is Steve Brady. With an engineering background, Steve initially found a job that suited his skill set – industrial refrigeration - but after six months he found the work aggravated his condition. After applying for various jobs, such as an electronics engineer in the British Virgin Isles, Steve found that, unless he held a Yachtmaster qualification, all doors were closed.

After searching the Internet, I came across the Turn to Starboard website and saw that they helped people in my position gain RYA qualifications, so I got in touch.

After an intensive training schedule, he went on to obtain his Yachtmaster qualification and was offered paid employment as a skipper.

Being skipper means I prepare and sail the boat with a crew on the sailing trips we provide, plus many other day-to-day tasks. When you leave the Marines, you often leave your friends, so the charity also provides a great place to spend time with like-minded people.

Dan Fielding was medically discharged from the Royal Marines in 2008 and has now become a full-time member of the Turn to Starboard team, having also completed his Yachtmaster programme and taken on the role of Bosun of Turn to Starboard’s training yacht.

Dan was medically discharged from the Marines eight years ago. He wasn’t sure what to do with my life and he just drifted. Five years ago he started having real problems mentally and ended up in treatment. He was in and out of mental health services for some time.

He started to think about how he could change my life. The people at C group (now the Royal Marines Charity, part of RNRMC) put me on to Turn to Starboard.  I came down to Cornwall three months ago to sign up for the Zero to Hero Programme and I stayed down here to volunteer for the charity. 

Things have got better for me ever since. I feel like I am me again. 

What Dan likes about being with Turn to Starboard is that all beneficiaries have all got the same passion.

In sailing you have a clear goal – you are all trying to get somewhere by working as a team. So it fits the ideals of the military.  I feel like I fit in again. It has allowed me to start living again. When I was a Marine I was at the top of the slope, I knew what I was doing and that I was valued. Then when I left it was like I was told – you’re no use to anyone any more … and I believed it.  Now I am right up to the top again.