A Southampton sailing charity has launched an emergency campaign to raise £1m by this Friday or face a bleak future

The trustees of Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST) launched the rescue effort to address “serious financial challenges” and to continue operating.

If unable to reach the £1m target by the end of the week it will “cease to exist immediately”, unless another solution is found.

Based in Woolston, the JST has been struggling financially for the past year following a number of mechanical problems on both of its ships.

Similarly, a poor uptake for its winter 2018 programme has had negative financial impacts.

Founded in 1978, the JST owns the Lord Nelson and Tenacious which are two specially adapted traditionally-rigged sailing ships.

They are the only ships in the world designed to be sailed by a crew with a variety of physical impairments and health conditions.

Both ships have wheelchair lifts and wide decks that provide equal and easy access throughout; a speaking compass that enables those with visual impairments to steer the ship, and power-assisted steering and a joystick for people with limited dexterity.

Over the past 40 years, the JST has embarked on nearly 50,000 voyages, taking crew members on trips along the South Coast to as far away as across the Atlantic.

After setting up a fundraising page last Friday, £418,012 has now been raised.

A charity spokesperson says: “Having to close the charity would be a very sad conclusion to four amazing decades of such important and ground-breaking work.

“It is particularly disappointing given the strength of our plans for later this year and beyond, which include a pioneering youth development project in August, and the continuation of important partnerships which impact all our beneficiary groups.

“This decision has not been taken lightly and follows extensive consultation with restructuring professionals.

“It also considers the trustees’ responsibilities and the requirement for good governance of the charity, along with its duty to all stakeholders.

“We sincerely appreciate everyone’s consideration of our request for help and thank you, in advance, for any assistance you can provide at this critical time.”

A decision about the charity’s future will be made next Monday.

To donate visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/emergencyappeal

Southern Daily Echo story by Tom Orde.

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