Youth charities gather for UK Sail Training Conference

Asto 2024 UK Sail Training Conference

Over 130 staff and volunteers from across the UK have come together for the 2024 UK Sail Training Conference, which took place on 25 January in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

The flagship event, which is aimed at fostering collaboration and innovation within the sail training sector, was hosted by the Association of Sail Training Organisations (ASTO), a registered charity that supports and promotes sail training in the UK.

This year’s conference reflected the dynamic challenges and opportunities facing the sail training sector. With a focus on safety, staff development, mental health awareness and widening participation, the conference served as a platform for thought-provoking sessions and networking opportunities.

Sessions and topics covered during the 2024 UK Sail Training Conference included crisis communications preparation and response, being visible to under-represented communities, being with autistic people, and mental health awareness.  

Asto 2024 UK Sail Training Conference

In addition, Sara Sutcliffe, chief executive of the RYA gave a keynote at the opening plenary about the value of sail training and about the RYA strategy ‘Together on Water’.

This was followed by the annual award ceremony, where the following accolades were presented:

  • Social Media Star Award: Sian McCluskey and the Sea Staff Team from OYT Scotland
  • Shore-based Staff Impact Award: Awards were presented to Kerry Ress, Youth Development Worker at Challenge Wales; and Karol Petryka, Yard & Refit Manager at the Excelsior Trust.
  • Best Potential Sail Training Skipper: Lauren Mackenzie, First Mate, Ocean Youth Trust South
  • Sail Training Vessel of the Year: Swan, The Swan Trust

“We were thrilled to host the 2024 UK Sail Training Conference, bringing together the Sail Training community to explore new approaches, share knowledge, and chart a course for a sustainable future in all senses of the word,” says Kerry McMillan, general manager of ASTO. “We would like to thank Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust for their generous support of the conference.”

ASTO has around 30 members, which are all not-for-profit organisations that operate in the region of 50 sail training vessels around the UK. ASTO’s UK sail training member organisations provide sail training experiences to over 10,000 young people annually.

Images courtesy of Max Mudie.

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