YOUNG apprentices have been given a unique opportunity to help restore an historic boat.
The Boleh is a junk yacht which dates back 60 years and was built in Singapore.
So far four lucky apprentices, who are studying boatbuilding, maintenance and support, at Highbury College, will be working with the Boleh Trust to restore the vessel.
Yesterday the trust, based in Henderson Road, Eastney, received £501,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The money awarded will go towards restoring the boat and establishing an apprentice training programme.
George Middleton, chairman of the Boleh Trust, said: ‘We are over the moon because we have been working really hard with the HLF.
‘We will be able to do fantastic restoration work with young people and this project is sensational.’
One apprentice who is grateful for the chance to work on the Boleh is 20-year-old Will Wiltshire.
He said: ‘This is brilliant because it’s interesting and it’s the sort of woodwork you wouldn’t normally do in class.
‘It’s a job that you do once and you have to do right, so it’s teaching me a lot of good stuff.’
Boleh, a 40ft wooden junk yacht, was built after the Second World War in Singapore by a Naval Officer, Commander Robin Kilroy, DSC, who then sailed her back to England.
His nephew is Mr Middleton, who brought the boat over to Portsmouth from Majorca, where its last owner had kept it.
Once restored, Boleh will be used to help give young people the chance to experience sailing the vessel and to build confidence, leadership and team working skills.
Alastair Fairley, of the HLF, said: ‘This is fantastic.
‘It is not only historic, but it’s also giving people in the community a chance to learn about something, and that is what is truly amazing.’
Charter Academy in Hyde Park Road, Portsmouth, will also be working with the trust to incorporate the boat into its lessons.
Restoration work first began in 2009, but stopped in 2011, when funding ran out.
Now money is available, it is hoped the vessel will be restored and functional by August 2014.