Make ours a shanty!

FEW will have seen London's Tower Bridge in the way that Bexhill High School students Charlie Hunt and Megan Rudd did on Wednesday this week.

For they were high in the rigging of the tall ship Stavros S Niarchos, a dizzying 45 metres or almost 150 feet above the River Thames as the vessel slipped past the bridge’s distinctive twin towers.

Charlie and Megan, both 16, were celebrating the finale of the Tall Ships Youth Trust Voyage of Achievement, funded by the HSBC, which saw 48 students from 24 schools across England enjoy the adventure of a lifetime.

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They had set sail from Newcastle-upon-Tyne 10 days previously and headed for the Scottish port of Leith before crossing the North Sea to Scheveningen in Holland. It was from there they then sailed back to London.

During the voyage they worked in teams to scale the ship’s masts, scrub decks, keet watch and practise man overboard and other safety drills - all around the clock.

The students were specially selected to take part in the voyage by their schools, which set the selection criteria, and learned a great deal about themselves and others while forging new friendships aboard.

Charlie said: ”My proudest moment was helming the ship into Leith but the real challenge was handling the sails during a storm.”

Megan added: “It’s been amazing. Even though it has been difficult, the voyage has brought on a feeling of achievement and self discovery.”

More than 500 young people have now taken part in the Voyage of Achievement since it was launched 11 years ago. Stavros S Niarchos is a 197-feet (60-metre) long steel-hulled, two-masted, square-rigged brig, dedicated to youth work at sea for 14 to 25 year olds.

The vessel’s 18 sails have a sail area equivalent to the size of four tennis courts, and she carries nearly nine miles of wire and rope.