More youngsters to benefit as charity opens second site in Gosport

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YOUNGSTERS taking part in boat-building projects and other on-the-water activities now have a new space to develop their skills.

Charity Oarsome Chance has taken over a workshop in Gosport as part of the work it does with children and teenagers who are disengaged with mainstream education.

Youngsters at the Oarsome Chance Foundation Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Youngsters at the Oarsome Chance Foundation Picture: Duncan Shepherd

The workshop, on the St Vincent College campus off Mill Lane, is large enough for the children to make boats, oars and recycle sails to make wallets, wash bags and chair covers.

Paul O’Grady, founder and chairman of Oarsome Chance, said it was great to see the charity expanding into a second site, one which is next to Forton Lake.

He started the organisation two years ago with his wife Emma.

Paul said: ‘My wife and I were aware of the problems that disengaged youngsters have who are struggling in school or have been excluded.

My passion is sailing and boat-building so we started Oarsome Chance to give the youngsters the chance to build oars, design and build boats and learn some key skills

Paul O’Grady

‘We wanted to create something that would capture their imagination and give them reasons to come to somewhere on time and learn particular skills.

‘My passion is sailing and boat-building so we started Oarsome Chance to give the youngsters the chance to build oars, design and build boats and learn some key skills they could use in a job.’

Over the past two years, the charity has also expanded to included engineering workshops where the children can work on bicycles and engines.

And now with the new workshop, Paul hopes to see more children from across Gosport, Portsmouth, Havant and Fareham benefit from the charity.

Eleven-year-old Lee Shiers shaping an oar in the new Gosport workshop.
Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Eleven-year-old Lee Shiers shaping an oar in the new Gosport workshop. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

He added: ‘It is fantastic to have taken over this space which used to be the Maritime Workshop Trust.

‘It has lots of space and it is right near the water.

‘We always wanted to be in Gosport because there is a great community here and lots of maritime history.’

Principal John Gillard spends his time with the different age groups and helping them with the projects.

Supported by Laura Swallow, carpentry student Tia Paget takes the opportunity to learn to work with a sewing machine to create sailing bags, wallets, and similar items from recycled sails as part of her work experience placement at Oarsome Chance.
Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Supported by Laura Swallow, carpentry student Tia Paget takes the opportunity to learn to work with a sewing machine to create sailing bags, wallets, and similar items from recycled sails as part of her work experience placement at Oarsome Chance. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

He praised the new site and said it was a great space for what the charity wanted to do and help the youngsters.

John said: ‘It is really great seeing the difference the charity makes to the kids.

‘For some of them, there is a massive transformation in their behaviour. They want to come here and work on the projects and that is great.’

For more information visit oarsome-chance.co.uk.

Laura Swallow of the Oarsome Chance Foundation, treats students Byron Croker and Rhys Quainton-Davis to trip out on the water.
Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Laura Swallow of the Oarsome Chance Foundation, treats students Byron Croker and Rhys Quainton-Davis to trip out on the water. Picture: Duncan Shepherd