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Jubilee Sailing Trust - Be Inspired: Meet Jess

Press Release

Jubilee Sailing Trust

Be Inspired: Meet Jess

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The Jubilee Sailing Trust is a Southampton based charity that promotes the integration of able-bodied and disabled men and woman through the medium of tall ship sailing.

The JST owns an operates the only two tall ships on the planet that have been specifically designed to cater for people of all abilities. They are called Lord Nelson and Tenacious

Lord Nelson is currently embarked on her maiden circumnavigation. This staggering 50,000 mile voyage is made even more incredible by the crew, people like Jess, who come on board and become part of the adventure

Jess Mellish is a 16 year-old from New Zealand who was sponsored to travel with JST through the special needs unit at Te Puke High School. Jess has condition called Septo-optic Dysplasia, which caused the loss of her sight. On her voyage in New Zealand she climbed the mast in an incredible display of bravery. 

It’s very difficult to describe the effect that Jess had on board Lord Nelson in Auckland earlier this year. Very hard indeed. The reason many of us were on that trip was to be wowed by the stunning coastline of New Zealand and captivated by the Bay of Islands. As it happened, they played second fiddle to a sixteen-year-old girl who surprised everyone. Jess is blind. She has a condition called Septo Optic Dysplasia. She has also never sailed before. Or done anything remotely as adventurous as become part of the crew working on a tall ship. She received bursary funding to come on the voyage and was put forward by the special needs department at her school.

As the crew began to mix over the first few days, it became very clear that Jess was a sweet, interesting, engaging young lady. She was patient and trusting and helped wonderfully by her young buddy, Simone.

Around the same time, whispers began to circulate that Jess was planning to climb the mast, which is not an unusual part of the JST sailing experience and, as with all of the crew on board, it is something of a right of passage. So, while we were alongside in Opua, Jess got fitted with a harness and off she went. I can tell you that there wasn’t a person in the vicinity who wasn’t utterly astounded with the way Jess approached that climb. Not only did she have an unforgettable look of determination as she took each step, but in between each of these she smiled the truest smile I have ever seen. It was an absolute pleasure to watch and is an experience that will stay with me, ready to be recalled, whenever my own resolve is waining. Fortunately, you don’t have to take my word for it, as there is a video that captures everything. Please watch it here and please keep giving to the JST, a wonderful charity that helps fund places for incredible people 
like Jess.” 

Lord Nelson is a 55-metre square rigged vessel that was purpose built in 1986 and has, along with her sister ship, Tenacious, had 40,000 customers. Of those, 15,000 have been disabled and 5,000 have been wheelchair users.

Video Link Jess http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxkyEZIDKgw


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