Bedales student crews tall ship on Mediterranean voyage

16 year old Bedales student, Ally Swain, has returned from the journey of a lifetime as crew member aboard tall ship Tenacious operated by the Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST), which offered five 16-25 year olds the chance to sail from Palma to Barcelona in December. Sixth former Ally applied straight away and became one of the youngest in the crew.

The voyage took the ship and her crew from Palma on the Spanish island of Mallorca along a Mediterranean passage to Barcelona. During the journey Ally and her fellow crew members learned how to climb the mast, set the sails and helm the ship amongst other important skills while at sea.

Commenting on the experience, Ally said: “Sailing has always been something that I’ve been keen to do as many of my family members also sail. When our Head of Geography told me in a school assembly that she had looked down on Tower Bridge from the mast of a tall ship, I realised that it was something to add to my ‘bucket list’, and we’ve been chatting about tall ships ever since. I’m just really glad that she thought of me when she heard about the trip. The voyage itself was phenomenal. The JST, the charity that I was sailing with, is a really worthwhile cause, aiming to improve the lives of disabled and able-bodied people alike through the challenge of crewing a tall ship together. We were taught almost everything about the running of the ship, from mess duty (working in the kitchens) to raising or setting the sails and steering at the helm. Everyone was equal on the boat and people of all abilities would work together, from the wheelchair bound to the blind. It was the trip of a lifetime, albeit rather challenging. Because the ship has to be running 24 hours a day there would be very cold night shifts that were four hours long each, however in many respects that was my favourite part of the entire voyage. It is an indescribable experience to be steering a tall ship under the stars with people you met less than a week ago but feel as if you have known for a lifetime”

Kirsty Layton, Head of Geography, said: “When I found out the JST were looking for young recruits, I didn’t hesitate in putting Ally’s name forward. Ally has always been inspired by action rather than simply sitting back and talking an issue through – this has been the case since joining Bedales.  Ally has embarked on an Earthwatch expedition in Borneo, entirely through her own efforts and has since taken on debates in London and continues to be actively involved in wider environmental issues and supporting others through the school’s extra-curricular programme. The JST is an incredible experience to start a passion for sailing.”

Bedales student Ally Swain


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

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