Since discovering his love of sailing, 14-year-old Joseph Tillotson, from Fareham, was introduced to the Andrew Simpson Centre in Portsmouth and has cruised along ever since.
The foundation, whose aim is to ‘Transform Lives through Sailing’, is a not-for-profit organisation which delivers a range of charitable activities, including community sailing programmes with a focus on well-being, career development and participation.
‘Me and my friend Alex are now assistant instructors, we started noticing that some of the equipment could use some updating,’ said Joseph.
Alongside the Andrew Simpson Centre’s annual fundraising event, Bert’s Bash on September 11, during which they offer taster sessions for £5, Joseph and his friend, 15-year-old Alex Megham, organised two fundraising events of their own.
‘It was off Joseph’s own back that he decided to do the fundraising’ said Joseph’s mum, Lucy Tillotson.
‘Everything they’ve got works, but some stuff just gets put aside because they’re not the most essential things to do, their priority is getting people out on the water’, Lucy said.
Through an online Just Giving petition and the fundraising events organised by the boys, a coffee morning and afternoon tea held in Joseph’s back garden, they raised over £700 for the organisation.
The friends first met through the club, which Lucy says has ‘transformed’ the boys' lives, offering them both the chance to train and qualify as assistant instructors for a ‘very good price’ said Lucy.
‘Being only children, they’re quite shy but it’s amazing to see how much they’ve come out of their shells and built on their leadership skills as well,’ she added.
The charity's aims to build a community of ‘accessible sailing and watersports’, providing adults and young people with opportunities to enjoy what is otherwise seen as an elite sport.
‘We couldn’t afford to join a sailing club and buy him a boat or anything, he’s been there for four years now and he’s just qualified as an assistant instructor,’ Lucy said.
‘So he spends a lot of his spare time down at the centre volunteering,’ she adds.
The friends are extremely pleased with the amount they have raised for the charity and they plan to continue their fundraising efforts with a six or seven hour sail as soon as weather permits.
‘If it wasn't for the Andrew Simpson Centre in Portsmouth I may never have learnt to sail’, Joseph said.
With an underlying ethos of ‘sailing for all’, Lucy says the centre gives Joseph and others the opportunity to grow and learn a new skill that they might not otherwise get.
‘We were surprised how good they were at helping young people when Joseph started there, we didn’t know anything about them and now we tell everyone we meet!’
For more information visit andrewsimpsonfoundation.org or donate to Joe and Alex’s fundraiser visit justgiving.com/fundraising/joseph19-tillotson
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