Charity Focus - Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation
The ASSF Grant Programme - Offering both practical and financial support to help in the delivery of inspiring sailing programmes across the world, ASSF’s grant programme is expected to reach £600,000 of pledged funds by the end of 2016.
Recent grants within the UK have included £10,000 to the Portsmouth Sail Training Trust to offer sailing and life skills training to 79 local young people from disadvantaged backgrounds; £7,000 to Plymouth Youth Sailing which helped fund a youth worker to engage with groups of disadvantaged young people and provide opportunities for them to sail on a regular basis; and £19,110 to the NSSA which was used to fund school aged children to participate in training programmes, regattas and instructor courses throughout the country, whilst also helping towards the ongoing costs of training, race management and safety courses for volunteers who currently work with the NSSA to develop youth sailing. Across the globe, funds have been sent to countries such as Australia, Sweden and Bermuda.
“We always talk about barriers to sport, and I think there is also the issue of perceived barriers to sport,” said Tim. “It’s only when people are offered opportunities at their local water sports centre or the local sailing clubs, that they then realise the potential of actually taking part.
“Many people think it is massively expensive and difficult to get into sailing, but once you have given young people these opportunities, and you show that there are these clubs around the country where you can go and get involved with sailing for something like £50 per year, which includes full membership, use of the gear and tuition, you suddenly see a spike in participation. There are some incredible projects out there, and it is the role of the ASSF to help fund wherever we can to ensure the next generation of sailing reaches its full potential.”
One such perceived barrier is disability, but sailing is one of the few sports where those with disabilities can and do compete equally with their able-bodied peers. But that said, the decision to remove sailing events from the next Paralympic Games in Japan in 2020, was a key reason behind Bart’s Bash 2016 doubling its efforts to raise awareness of and funds for disabled sailing.
“It was great to see disabled sailors competing on the same courses as able-bodied sailors at venues across the world over Bart’s Bash weekend,” noted Tim. “We have sailability clubs registered in a number of countries, including the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Sweden and South Africa with many more results still to come in.
“We want to support these clubs by providing training and equipment, and by subsidising the costs of coaching for schools who attend ongoing and sustainable sailing sessions at venues who have the right kit and volunteers. We want to work with sailing providers to start to overcome some of the barriers that exist and to increase the availability of sailing for those with disabilities. We also want to work with national organisations to ensure there is a good training programme in place to allow people to progress into racing and hopefully into future Paralympic Games when sailing is reintroduced.”
But sailing is much more than simply a competition or a sport for people to take part in. For the many young people who have experienced sailing for the first time thanks to the work done by ASSF, it can have a huge impact on their lives, and overall view of the world.
“We are really moving away from the idea that sailing is just a sport,” said Tim. “We can physically see sailing enhancing the life skills of some of the youngsters and building their confidence, interpersonal skills, social interactions, decision making, leadership... there are so many soft skills that sailing brings on, apart from the actual physical skills of sailing.”
Bart’s Bash on the 2017 Calendar
With the final fundraising figures for Bart’s Bash 2016 yet to be announced at the time of writing, the foundation is currently considering all grant applications it has received for its next wave of funding. In addition, work on making 2017’s event an even bigger global success is an ongoing job.
When asked if he thinks Bart’s Bash has now made it onto the sailing calendar, Tim said: “It does seem so. There are a lot of clubs who seem fully committed to this event. They say that Bart’s Bash is the fun event in their year; a lot of serious racing goes
on within current events so this is a chance for all the clubs to come together, all potentially on the same course and racing at the same time, and it just seems to be a good, friendly and social atmosphere. It’s brilliant, and if the event continues in this way, that will be amazing.”
But always in the forefront of the minds of everyone involved in the charity and the fundraising events, is Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson. A man whose legacy, and positive impact on all who met him, will never be forgotten.