What a great idea the Boleh project is. A unique, historic boat gets restored and at the same time an apprentice training programme is established, allowing young people to gain valuable hands-on experience of boatbuilding.
Today we report how the Portsmouth-based Boleh Trust has received £501,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to pay for work on the 40ft wooden junk yacht.
It’s an excellent use of lottery funds because it will help four apprentices from Highbury College to learn skills that will hopefully lead to them making a career in the boatbuilding industry.
As one of them, 20-year-old Will Wiltshire, says: ‘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 it right.’
There’s a valuable educational aspect too, as Charter Academy school in the city will be working with the trust to incorporate the boat into its lessons.
And that’s not all. Once Boleh is finished, young people will be given the chance to experience sailing her and build confidence, leadership and teamworking skills.
The lottery funding was crucial in ensuring that Boleh, which dates back 60 years and began life in Singapore, is saved for future generations to enjoy.
She certainly has a fascinating story to tell. Built in the style of a Chinese dhow by a naval officer, Commander Robin Kilroy, she was then sailed all the way back to England.
It was front page news when Robin and his crew arrived back in Salcombe in Devon. The journey was about 12,000 miles and took eight months.
Robin’s nephew, George Middleton, eventually found Boleh in Majorca, bought her and brought her back to Portsmouth on the back of a lorry.
Now lottery funding is in place, Boleh can be lovingly restored to her former glory.
We look forward to the day in 2014 when the fully-restored boat takes proudly to the water once more.