Well, I’m either brave or stupid – possibly both!
I’ve no sailing experience whatsoever and haven’t been parted from my mascara in 20 years!
A Potted History
I was born in Glasgow in 1975.
I attended Netherlee primary school from 1980 – 1987 and thanks to facebook I’ve just been re-united with my primary class photos!
I moved onto Williamwood High School 1987 – 1993, where I loved PE and walked Ben Nevis for charity at 15. I persuaded my best friend to do the walk with me – I loved it, she loathed the mountain and me for the duration of the walk (and me for sometime afterwards). Perhaps that explains why I’m doing this race alone!
After secondary school I went on to Anniesland college and completed an HNC in health and fitness. I thought I was so cool going to college in my boyfriend’s sweater and spending Tuesday nights clubbing!
I spent the next 4 years at Bedford College (De Montfort Uni as it became in year 2) studying for a BEd in PE and English. I made some amazing friends for life and had a fabulous time. My interest in outdoor sports really grew: Surfing, Kyaking, Kite Flying even Mountaineering club captain but noticeably no sailing, the closest I ever came was getting stuck in the middle of our local lake in a topper!
I went on to teach PE for a year at Eckington High School, in charge of Outdoor Education, Duke of Edinburgh and the school Residential.
I moved to Applecross (one of the most picturesque places in the world) in the Western Highlands where I worked as a volunteer Development Tutor with Youth at Risk. It’s the most rewarding job I’ve ever had and there are many times it has helped me put life into perspective. Being close to nature and people’s raw emotions had a huge effect on me and has shaped a lot of what I have done since, both personally and professionally. I’m sure the experiences I had in Applecross and the lessons that I learnt there will be magnified many times over as I sail round the world!
After a rock climbing accident I left Applecross and took a ‘safer’ job working for Mars. I started in Sales, moved to Category Management, Key Accounts, National Accounts and finally Training and Development. I have spent 11 years with the business – a long and rewarding time for someone who just needed a job and tossed a coin to decide whether or not to go to the initial interview!
Why Do It?
So, as you have read, I have a passion for people, adventure and nature but not one iota of sailing experience – you have to feel sorry for the rest of the crew on my boat!
I have always had a desire to undertake some big adventure and have read almost every book there is to read on Everest and polar explorations. I have a huge admiration for adventurers and people who physically train hard to achieve a goal. I am moved when I see them train, compete and succeed. I’ve always wanted to be able to do something challenging, to get to know myself better, to push myself to the limits and to succeed as part of a team, overcoming both mental and physical challenges.
I first read about amateur round the work sailing when someone at work mentioned Pete Goss had given a motivational after dinner talk. They spoke very enthusiastically about him and so I read his book to find out more. I enjoyed the book so went on to read Ellen McArthur’s book. I read a few other sailing books but thought no more of it really. My next contact with round the world sailors was meeting a fellow holiday maker who was enthusiastic about sailing and took me out on a plastic catamaran, giving his credentials as having done a round the world yacht race. At the time I thought ‘that sounds like fun but I’m not a sailor’ as was soon proven when I didn’t know one end of the catamaran from the other. The chance to actually apply for the Clipper race finally hit home when one of the skippers (Will Carnegie) from a previous race came to work with me on a development day at Mars. He spoke about his race and the challenges his crew faced. His pictures and first hand account over the course of the day had me looking up the race on the internet and sending away for an application pack – perhaps it was the crew member who lost a finger or the one who had an ankle injury similar to mine that made me think it was a good idea!
Well ‘if not now then when’ I thought, so I applied…
You have to question why I was given a place on the race. Here are some of the answers I wrote on my application form:
Other relevant details about you: ‘I have a metal plate and pins in my ankle and poor circulation in general. I also know a large number of giraffe facts!’
Please describe your personality and temperament, setting out your best and worst characteristics: ‘At my best; Cheeky, Organised, Open Minded, Enthusiastic, Driven, Happy To Learn, Friendly, Persuasive & Supportive. At my worst; Usually when I’m tired or cold! (doesn’t bode well!) Quiet, Impatient, Direct and Grumpy.’
I think it was my giraffe facts that swung it! Somehow I was given a place on the race so, I took a deep breath and told my family and friends and here I am, sailing a 68ft racing yacht as part of the crew in the Clipper 11/12 Round The World Yacht Race!