TWO Portsmouth teenagers are pursuing careers in the marine industry after being inspired by a charity.
Luke Symonds, 16, from Landport in Portsmouth, and 17-year-old Joe Swindale from Buckland were referred to Oarsome Chance after becoming disengaged with classroom learning.
The charity, established in October 2015, seeks to inspire, motivate and upskill disadvantaged young people in Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant.
It helps them build vocational skills including boat building, carpentry and canvas skills, as well as providing on-water opportunities.
Joe, who attended Trafalgar School, was on the road to expulsion after consistent poor behaviour, before being told by a teacher he was spending the day with Oarsome Chance.
Joe said: ‘On my first day we went sailing, which was exciting as I’d never been on a boat before. It was then when things started to change for me.
‘Each day I do something different, which I love because it means there’s always something new to try or to learn.’
Luke, who attended Charter Academy, was also referred to Oarsome Chance by his school due to his disruptive behaviour.
Luke said: ‘I wasn’t really that into boats but over time I became really interested in all of it. Now I love boats and I do dinghy sailing and yacht racing a lot.’
Both Joe and Luke have received apprenticeships with the charity and gained numerous qualifications.
Luke said: ‘I started with the basic boat building skills like woodwork and carpentry but since my apprenticeship started six months ago, I’ve had the opportunity to develop lots of other skills.’
Another unique opportunity came up when Joe and Luke were invited for a private tour of Carrington Boats in Hythe, the boat shed where the multi-million pound HUGO BOSS boat, set to be skippered by Gosport-based round-the-world sailor Alex Thomson, is being built.
Oarsome Chance principal, John Gillard, said he is proud of how much progress Joe and Luke have made with the charity.
Luke is looking to become a deckhand on a superyacht once he has got his boat building qualification, while Joe is studying marine engineering to become a commercial diver.
Joe said: ‘Oarsome Chance has changed me and I’m a completely different person now.’