Ashleigh Gillings, Dana Morris, Emily Runciman and Emma Dyball will all work on board the ferry company’s Newcastle-Amsterdam ships this month as part of a programme developed in partnership with Tall Ships organiser Sail Training International. DFDS is a sponsor of the Tall Ships event this year and has offered the trainees a chance to get more experience of life at sea in addition to its sponsorship deal. The girls, from Ashington, will spend time with the company’s experienced seafarers, learning about life at sea and helping out with a range of core tasks, including working in the galley kitchen and preparing cabins before passengers embark for their sailings.
Ashleigh, 19, who volunteers with the Northumberland Youth Service, is hoping that the experience will help her secure a job in the travel industry. She said: “I’d really like to travel in my work, meet new people and visit new places so I’m hoping my time at sea with DFDS will give me a great insight into what it’s like to work on a ferry and what’s involved with working at sea.”
She’s looking forward to joining the Tall Ships fleet in August and said: “I think it will be challenging to live and work in that environment, but I’m looking forward to being part of a close team and even going up the rigging! I know I’m really lucky. It’s a great opportunity and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Dana, 17, is currently a student at Newcastle College. She said: “I’m looking forward to mixing with different age groups and I’m hoping that this experience will help me decide what I could do after college. I can’t swim, so getting over that may be my biggest challenge.”
Emily, 18, previously sailed on the Black Diamond Tall Ship and enjoyed the experience so much that she applied again this year. She said: “It’s such a great opportunity and completely different to the usual things I’d be doing. I know it will be hard work, but I also know I’m going to love it. I’m going to study Maritime Science and Maritime Law at Plymouth University and I aim to join the Royal Navy, so being on board the DFDS ferry and the Tall Ship will be invaluable experience for me as I develop a maritime career.”
Emma, 19, is hoping that the experience will help to build her confidence. She said: “A lot of my friends are jealous and wish they could be doing it too. I think I’ve shocked a few people as they didn’t think this is the sort of thing I’d do, but I’m really looking forward to it. It will be valuable experience to develop my career and to build my confidence.”
The trainees will be in good hands on board the DFDS ships, as they join seafarers who have previously been part of Tall Ships events. Jørn Vase, commercial head on board King Seaways, was a Tall Ships Trainee in 1986 and sailed as a cadet on training ship Denmark. He said: “My time as a Tall Ships Trainee was the making of me, giving me valuable experience that helped me develop my career at sea. We sailed from La Spezia in Italy and crossed the Atlantic to the Caribbean, ending our training in New York for the 4 July celebrations to mark the centenary of the Statue of Liberty. I’m sure I’ll be able to share some tips with our trainees and I’m really looking forward to making them feel at home on board the ship this summer and helping to develop their skills.”
When the Tall Ships regatta gets under way at the end of this month, Emma and Emily will sail on the Class A Tall ShipThalassa (from the Netherlands) and Ashleigh and Dana will sail on Class A Tall Ship the Christian Radich (a Norwegian ship). They will be on board for nine days as they race from Blyth to Gothenburg, sailing more than 500 nautical miles.
The teenagers were among 80 young people selected from more than 600 applications to take part in the Tall Ships Trainee programme, which aims to introduce young people to the sea and further their personal development through participation in the challenge of offshore sailing.
Northumberland County Council will host the prestigious regatta, in partnership with the Port of Blyth and Sail Training International, from 26 to 29 August. It will be the only regatta in the UK this year and is one of the largest ever held in the county.
DFDS is offering visitors to the Blyth event a chance to see the action up close with a special four-hour day-sailing that will accompany the Tall Ships during the spectacular Parade of Sail. The company will also display a unique exhibit as part of celebrations to mark its 150 anniversary during the Tall Ships event on Blyth quayside.
Councillor Scott Dickinson, business chair at Northumberland County Council, said: “Taking part in the Regatta and sailing to Sweden from Blyth is an amazing and exciting challenge. The DFDS work experience programme is an excellent way for the four trainees to prepare for the race and will enhance their CVs, helping them in their future careers.”