50th anniversary celebrations
Ocean Youth Club – Ocean Youth Trust 1960-2010
Ocean Youth Trust South held our 50th anniversary celebrations on Saturday 16th October 2010 in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard.
All those who attended the evening dinner were given a copy of the very special 50th anniversary brochure, edited by Emma Ellis and including a detailed history of the Ocean Youth Club and Ocean Youth Trust with a wealth of fascinating information and archive photos.
OYT South’s proposed new boat
During the dinner, world-renowned yacht designer Merf Owen gave a talk and answered questions about OYT South’s plans for a new sail training vessel.
A commemorative picture was produced for the event by marine artist Colin Baxter.
The original was auctioned on the night; but Colin also produced a limited edition of 250 signed and numbered prints.
See here for an attendees’ list.
The following report appeared in the OYT South newsletter the week after the event:
There came a point last Saturday night when I found myself looking across a room containing 400 people who had all supported the Ocean Youth Club and Ocean Youth Trust at some time over the last half-century, and the scale of our shared achievement really hit home. The commitment, enthusiasm and determination of the people in that room and so many others like them has built something extraordinary and changed the lives of many thousands of young people. It really has been the most amazing journey from an idea in the minds of Chris Ellis and Chris Courtauld in 1960 to the glorious celebration of last weekend.
A theme for the evening emerged almost unbidden: the Club or Trust has seen many changes across our 50-year history, but the core approach, ideals and vision remains the same. Perhaps that accounts, in part, for the atmosphere at the event. A volunteer mate from 1960 and a volunteer mate from 2010 can meet for the first time and develop an instant bond: they have shared the same experiences, seen the same sights, been motivated by the same things.
For those of you who missed it, the gathering took place in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, with John Laing alongside the original OYC vessel, Duet, open to the public in the shadow of HMS Warrior. Meanwhile, in Boathouse No.7, we had a tremendous display on our history, with thousands of photographs. After a quick formal AGM, we had a full programme of activities during the afternoon.
This included two very special musical performances: Phil Beer, acclaimed fiddle and guitar player, reprising many of the songs he performed on board John Laing during the Tall Ships events in St Petersburg last summer; and Hughie Jonesof the Spinners, who sailed with OYC in 1978 and made an album of sea shanties with OYC members singing the choruses. We also had two well-attended andhighly-acclaimed presentations: Andy Bristow, skipper of the British Army Antarctic Expedition, talking on “John Laing in Antarctica”, and Malcolm McKeand on the restoration of Kindly Light, ex-Theodora, one of OYC’s founding vessels. Meanwhile, in Boathouse No.7, we had slide shows
and archive film footage constantly playing; and we were also offering discounted tickets to the dockyard attractions such as HMS Victory and Mary Rose. Through all this, hundreds of guests were gathering and gossiping, and the main drawback of the event rapidly became apparent: there simply wasn’t enough time to meet all the people we wanted to meet, or to spend enough time talking to anyone.
After 5pm the crowds started drifting into Action Stations, the Royal Naval display area filled with interactive equipment such as helicopter simulators, while Boathouse No. 7 was set out for dinner. As all the guests gathered in Action Stations for a drinks reception hosted by International Paint, the size and scale of an event for 400 people really became clear! They were greeted with a welcome and introductory speech from OYT South’s Chief Executive, Mark “Wolf” Todd, in his own inimitable and irreverent style, quoting freely from the joining instructions from 1960s OYC voyages, as follows:
“I understand your boy wants to come on a yachting holiday……
9. I do not hold myself legally responsible for the safety of the ship or her crew.
10. I hold no Board of Trade or other certificate of competence to command or
navigate any vessel.
11. The crew are all signed on as personal friends of mine, are under no obligation to me, and all discipline is on a purely voluntary basis.
13. Plans may have to be changed entirely, owing to the weather or other causes. You cannot expect regular letters.
14. Boys are to provide their own clothing….suit, shoes etc for going ashore….”
Then we moved back into Boathouse No. 7, transformed with elegant tables each named after an OYC or OYT vessel or premises, and decorated with balloons. This phase of the evening began with a speech from the broadcaster, journalist and sailor Libby Purves, who moved and inspired us with an impassioned account of the true value of sail training and OYC/T’s place within it. We have had some outstanding feedback regarding this speech and I am hoping Libby will be able to provide a copy to put on our website for others to read.
The dinner itself was followed by one more speech, from Merfyn Owen, the designer of OYT South’s proposed new boat, who introduced the design and the
associated financial appeal to our members and supporters, and took questions from the floor. This was followed by the raffle, an auction, more music from Hughie Jones and the band Nine Mile Ride, and as much conversation as could possibly be squeezed in before the evening ended.
A vast number of staff and volunteers contributed to making the event such a success, and we would like to thank everyone who was involved. If I start listing individual names, it could go on for hours, so I shall just mention one: Emma Ellis, daughter of our late founder, Chris Ellis, who put in months of work as our volunteer Event Manager. But to everyone else who helped: you know who you are, and we couldn’t have done it without you.