These days will come again


OYT South bulletin 12th March 2021

In this Bulletin
Sections which have changed since last time marked *

* Prolific’s Big Virtual Voyage starts in TEN days – 1,067 miles pledged already - please get involved and start fundraising!
Can you add TWO miles?
As the countdown begins to the start of Prolific’s Big Virtual Voyage on 22nd March, we’ve had 1,067 miles pledged by 23 people! That’s far enough to see us sailing up the Swedish coast!

We've had a lot of big pledges but there must be more people who don't have time or energy to make a big pledge, but who could manage two miles, or five miles, or a couple of miles a day. We'd like to see if we can add another fifty miles or more, with lots and lots of smaller pledges. Or you could make a team pledge – can a family of four commit to ten miles between you?

21 of the pledges so far come from our own volunteers and local supporters, but we’re also grateful to Oysterband, with band members and fans now getting behind the Virtual Voyage following the pledge from their singer John Jones to add his own 50 miles to the total. Three members of the band came on board Prolific in Southampton during a tour a few years ago:


If you can't contribute any miles, you can always think about sponsoring someone else (we have £2,005 in sponsorship already). Here’s how it works:

Usually at the end of March we’d be wrapping up the winter refit and welcoming young people on board Prolific for our first sail training voyage of the season. This year our trips are being delayed by the pandemic, but we’re still as keen as ever to get back to working as a team.

Given that we’re not able to get out on the water just yet, we want to set you (our volunteers, supporters and young crew) a challenge: to get Prolific ‘sailing’ again.

Over the course of a week (Monday 22nd March to Sunday 28th March) we’re going to virtually recreate a typical trip, and we want you to help us go the distance by travelling as many miles as you can, by any method you’d like. Of course we’d all ordinarily choose to sail, but for now we want you to cycle, run, walk, swim, cartwheel, skateboard… and with each mile travelled, we’ll get Prolific closer to the next port. Day by day we’ll add up everyone’s combined mileage and see how far we’ve got.. Each day we’ll post an image of the chart with a position marked showing where Prolific has got to based on the miles which everyone contributes to the total.

In the run up to this week, we’d like you to choose your activity, pledge a mileage that you’ll aim for (whether that be in one big go on the Saturday, or a bit every day of the week), and then as you’re training to achieve your goal, get sponsored! We’d love to raise some money for the charity so spread the word of our upcoming feat and we’ll see what we can achieve together. We have set up a Justgiving page to make it easy to collect donations but of course you can set up your own page if that works better for you. Our Justgiving page is being updated with a list of confirmed pledges so you can see who you might sponsor.

If this sounds like your kind of challenge and you're keen to get involved, email with your pledge. And if you can’t join in yourself, please sponsor someone else and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to do the same!

There will also be other ways to join in during the week. Maybe you would like to take responsibility for one of the virtual meals during the week? Your recipe can be posted on Facebook in advance and we can invite others to get the ingredients in and cook along with you. Maybe we can try some ideas that are a bit different from our regular boat meals – either things we could never do on a normal voyage, or perhaps something that might be added to Prolific’s repertoire this year!

Virtual Voyage

Watchleader Glyn Collins has pledged to complete 70 miles on a rowing machine during the week: here’s a video from one of his training sessions.

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* Success for Staff Cadet

Big congratulations to our Staff Cadet Georgia Watson who has completed her Yachtmaster Theory qualification!

Georgia’s cadetship was designed to take her through a sequence of training and qualifications but of course this has been disrupted over the last year just like everything else. But she got her head down and studied during lockdown, often on her own, and now her efforts and determination have been rewarded and she deserves credit for having persevered with it. We look forward to the day when she can put her new knowledge into effect on a real voyage!

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In memory of Martin Pearson
Many thanks to the friends and family of Martin Pearson who are collecting funds for Ocean Youth Trust South in his memory.

Martin Pearson

Here’s what they told us about him: “Martin Pearson died on 22nd February 2021. He was an avid sailor and yacht racing was what he was all about. He was always happy to give the youth at Parkstone YC, his home club, an opportunity to race with him and the crew on Ruthless whenever the chance presented itself.  Both his children, Sam and Sophie, are also keen and very proficient sailors and came through the squad system when they were younger. They were given lots of opportunities so, as a family, we felt that that Ocean Youth Trust South was a worthy beneficiary for donations in Martin's memory. Martin would be very pleased to know that in some small way donations arising from his passing would go toward creating an opportunity for a young person to experience the joy of sailing which he so loved.  Who knows, the next Ben Ainslie could be just around the corner waiting and doesn't even know it yet …”

Martin’s fund is already enough to make a huge difference to some of the young people who will be sailing with us.

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* David Gray remembers John Laing’s first season

Many thanks to former skipper David Gray who unearthed some photos from John Laing’s first season!

Earlier days ...

Earlier days ...

Earlier days ...

David remembers that one of the boys was a bright 11-year-old named Alan.  The crew asked the skipper to explain the labels painted on one of the deck inlet/outlet fittings. “Fresh water” and “Diesel” made sense, but what was the “Black waste” outlet? David enlightened them.

During clean-up at the end of the voyage, the first mate (a retired Air Commodore called Mel) asked Alan to clean the companionway steps, but his first attempt didn’t impress. “Come on Alan, that's not good enough! Do it again" says Mel. "Oh - Black Waste!" says Alan.......

Happy Days, says David!

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* Prolific refit news

Keeping up the illusion that sailing is glamorous: this week at refit, it’s all about the plumbing. The heating, grey water, and heads systems are being serviced to help keep things flowing. And thanks to Tanki’s support, this will be easier now we have their totally plastic- and glue-free toilet roll on board! #noglueintheloo. Josh seems to be enjoying it more than Georgia:





Also this week, the oven has been fixed; the deck and hull have been cleaned; the batteries have been checked; and at the start of the week, when it was sunny, work continued on the capping rail and there were some other jobs out on deck:


Although the staff team is back at work, of course we still need to take all necessary precautions against Covid, and so we are keeping the refit as small as possible and we won’t be calling for the usual army of volunteer help. If anything comes up where we do need help and can manage it safely, we will let you know; but in the meantime we want to thank everyone who has worked so hard on Prolific in recent years and ensured that the boat is in such a good condition that we only need to tackle the bare essentials this year.

If you want to support the refit team then the occasional phone call to the boat, an encouraging message on social media or anything else you can think of to boost morale is always welcome!

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COVID-19 (coronavirus) update
See here for the latest statement from our Chief Executive Mark Todd.

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2021 sailing plans

Of course nothing is certain yet and the government has stressed that each stage in lifting restrictions is dependent on the success of the previous stage, and no dates are set in stone. However if all goes well then there is a chance that residential voyages with young people may be possible after 21st June, and perhaps staff and volunteer training and maybe even some day sails with young people could be an option sometime after 17th May.

We have therefore been contacting clients whose voyages were cancelled last year and for whom we are still holding payments or deposits, to see who wants to sail this year and when they might be available. We obviously can’t confirm anything yet but it is good to be able to start thinking about some plans.

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2021 volunteer bookings
- send in your bids NOW!
Big thanks to everyone who has already sent in voyage dates but we now want to move towards actually allocating voyages to volunteers from June 21st. So if you have already sent in dates but your plans have changed, or the later season start date affects what you would like to do, please let us know; and if you haven’t yet sent in any bids but would like to sail this season, please email now.

What we need to know is when youare available and how much time you can spare - but please read the rest of this section before emailing!

If you have had a skipper's recommendation (which means that EITHER you have sailed on a youth voyage and been told at the end that you have been recommended to come back for bosun or watchleader training, or you have done an adult voyage and been given a recommendation at the end) but are not yet an assessed and qualified member of sea staff, your next step is to sail on a youth voyage of four nights or more, for further training and assessment. Not all voyages are suitable for this but please send in details of your availability and we'll aim to match you with an appropriate voyage.

Qualified sea staff (anyone who sailed with us as a watchleader, bosun or engineer in 2019 or previously) - ideally please give us voyage numbers of anything you would like to do (see here for voyage numbers); or give us names of any regular clients you'd particularly like to sail with. But if you have really flexible availability, the easiest thing is to tell us the maximum number of days you can offer in 2021.

Please note that we DO need you to send in details of when you can sail (whether specific voyage numbers, or an idea of the times of year you can or can’t do - e.g. if you can only sail in school/college/uni holidays - in which case do give us exact dates) and/or how much time you can offer - please DON'T email to ask what voyage dates are available. The reasons for this are complicated but it’s basically all about the need to put together teams of sea staff with the right blend of experience, qualifications and skills, rather than booking people one-by-one.

We really need to get bids in from as many people as possible before we can start the allocation process. If you really need an answer quickly then please tell us your deadline and we will do our best for you!

Once the main round of allocations is completed we will advertise any remaining gaps, but you may find there's not a lot of choice at that stage. Please send bids or questions to

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Online training courses for volunteers – safeguarding and more

If you know you have certificates which will expire this year (or have already expired), we have new EduCare licences available – if you would like one to complete your courses, either pay through the website link or get in touch with the office and we’ll talk you through what’s needed -  we can tell you what’s expired and what’s still valid, and what dates apply. If would be great if everyone can get on and ensure all qualifications are up to date so we don’t have to chase people for important pieces of paper at the last minute!

See previous issues of this newsletter for details of online RYA training which may be of interest.

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2021 volunteer training – on board
– probably May / June rather than April
Because none of our volunteers have sailed Prolific for a year, we will aim to run some refresher trips at the start of the season. We had previously advertised some possible dates for training voyages in April but clearly there will still be restrictions on contacts and household mixing at that time, and we’re looking at options for dates in May and perhaps early June instead. We’ll advertise specific dates in this newsletter in the coming weeks.

As previously stated, priority on these refresher training voyages will go to relief skippers, first mates and second mates. If there are spare places we will then look at those qualified third mates and bosuns who are applying to do quite a few voyages; and only if there are spare places after that will we allocate them to occasional 3Ms, bosuns and trainee mates. This is simply because if we get the more senior team and the regulars happy and comfortable on board again, they will be in a good position to supervise and support others as needed on youth voyages. Skippers, 1Ms and 2Ms need to be ready to take on their usual responsibilities as soon as we start sailing with young people - others can more easily get extra help if you are a bit rusty!

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* In this week in previous years
While the charity is unable to operate, it is good to keep reminding ourselves about the value of our charitable work, the life-changing experiences and fantastic fun and friendship on our voyages and at our vessel refits and other activities. If you have a treasured memory of sailing, working or volunteering with us, or a tale of a voyage you will never forget, or a funny story, please send it to and we'll publish the best in future editions of this newsletter.

In this week in 2004, John Laing had just been relaunched at the end of a successful refit. The enthusiasm for having water all around was such that the volunteer responsible for filling the fresh water tanks – who was in the merchant navy and therefore perhaps used to a slightly larger tank capacity – came very close to giving us an indoor swimming pool until Staff Bosun Craig noticed and turned the hose off. There was some speculation as to whether an indoor pool would allow us to increase the voyage fees – and whether we could also add a cocktail bar and dance floor at the next refit.

The usual rush to get everything finished in time meant that the  interior painting was described in the newsletter as “a sort of crazed cartoon crocodile of people: at the front we had the sander, closely followed by someone to clean up the dust, getting in the way of the person putting masking tape on the edges, who was barely keeping ahead of a painter with a brush who was in charge of edges and fiddly bits, whose heels were being trodden on by Gary wielding a paint tray and a roller. Gary is probably the only man alive who could be stationed with a paintpot and a brush alongside the track for a world land speed record attempt and actually have the car finishing a different colour from when it started.” And meanwhile “the galley painting was done under just as much pressure of time ... In this case the technique was to have a couple of people painting above waist-height, one on each side, while someone else doing the lower levels got extensively trodden on. All of this painting obviously added to the convenience of the other workers on the boat at the weekend, as it got to the point where there was almost no surface anywhere which wasn’t covered in wet paint, so that it was hard to walk through the boat but equally dangerous to stand still as you would have risked being lightly sanded and covered with a coat of Homebase Pure White Gloss.”

In 2006 the standard phone call to the boat team asking what we should say about them in the newsletter produced a forlorn response: "We've been making ourselves very tired." The yard had shifted nine other boats out of the way in order to get John Laing back in the water, while it rained so hard that we might as well have been underwater. The wind then blew so hard that we were worried about getting the masts back in, while our ace rigger – one of our watchleaders - Tim Deverson, who had made all the new standing rigging, was in a state of panic about whether he had got everything the right length. The team kindly therefore made a wind-up phone call complaining that one of the stays was too short; but of course he had really done an excellent job.

Next day the boat moved back round from the Hamble to Ocean Village. The weather was terrible once again but we weren’t entirely sure whether the fact that we were heeling hard over despite having no sails up was due to strong wind on the beam, or to the fact that Staff Bosun Dinghy Boy's determination to throw away all the unwanted heavy stuff from the hardware locker might have induced a permanent list the other way? Maybe all that junk had been there for a reason....

2007’s relaunch took place in much more cheerful weather:



In 2008, and a desperate appeal for more help produced 21 people who got through huge amounts of work and left us feeling as though we might just be ready to relaunch in five days’ time – if a little breathless and exhausted!

We were also five days away from relaunch in this week in 2009, and had had a team from International Paint down to help apply the antifouling. We had also painted pretty much everything else but the bosun was using the newsletter to appeal for someone “small and wriggly” to paint the last few bits that no-one else had been able to reach! We had also just published the latest Annual Report with a lot of tales and quotes from people who had enjoyed sailing with us in 2008:

A 17-year who sailed with Naomi House Children’s Hospice told us: “I have enjoyed this trip to an amazing extent and if anyone asks me about the voyage I will tell them it is an amazing and mind-blowing experience and even though you have to work your nuts off it is all worth the late nights, meeting all different people and getting so close and just making the bond with everyone.”

Toynbee Hall, a Tower Hamlets-based charity, had organised four full voyages as part of the year-long Aspire Project, for disengaged young people who were not getting the full benefits of formal schooling. The project as a whole reported significant improvements in confidence and in school engagement. Jane Fletcher, Toynbee’s Education Programme Manager, wrote: “The sailing trips our young people took part in were a fantastic culmination of the skills and experiences they had throughout their year with Aspire, and we have booked up to go again in 2009. Many of our participants do not leave London very often (or indeed ever), certainly have never been on a 72’ yacht and mostly have not cooked and taken responsibility for themselves and a group in this way ever before.” A 15-year old girl said of her voyage: “It was a whole new life experience and was inspiring for us youths who get called yobs!”

In 2010 we were one week away from the shakedown voyage and ten days from the first voyage with young people, and we were getting tremendous support. The newsletter noted that between November and February we had had 351 days worked including 225 by volunteers.




In 2011 this week we noted that we were writing the 300th edition of this newsletter. Today’s is the 716th …

One of the volunteers who was on board at the time overheard a mention of Chemring Marine kindly donating a set of flares to the boat, and looked puzzled. The penny eventually dropped that we meant distress flares, not oilskin trousers extra-generously cut around the ankles!

In 2012 this week we announced that John Laing was coded – which meant she had passed the inspection which allowed us to operate as a sail training vessel for the season. Apparently it wasn’t regarded as a coding issue that Sparky appeared to have built himself into the galley and might be a permanent fixture on board:


We had just launched again in this week in 2013 and were just finishing off the usual last-minute rush of jobs:



In 2014 the masts had just gone back in – with a camera at the top to show the view as it was moved into position:


We were a week from launching in 2015 and had plenty of volunteers on board:





This was a week of shuffling gear in 2016 – one lot of kit out of the store and onto John Laing, and then kit off Prolific and into the store. Prolific’s tent and scaffolding was coming down:


But our main focus at the time was getting John Laing ready for her final season with us.

In 2018 the weather this week left us unconvinced that it was time to start a sailing season, with snow on deck by day:


And a mysterious visitor by night:


At this point in 2019 we were sixteen days from the start of the sailing season and we had a new outboard and dinghy. We also raided the cash and carry with a list including items such as: "36 tins of tomatoes ...10 kilos of cereal ... 1,440 Yorkshire tea bags."

Peta was asking for loads of help at the weekend on a final big push to get everything ready and was trying to entice people with promises of “ice-cream and maybe cake”. The newsletter noted “She would be particularly pleased to see any volunteers who create certainty of cake ...”




We were at the same stage this time last year, also appealing for support on a final volunteers’ weekend, to help the core team in putting the boat back together:




That brings us almost up to the present day. Please send in your contributions for future issues.

We hope these forays into the past are entertaining you while we cannot sail at the moment – and reminding everyone of how much effort so many people have put in over the years to ensure that we can keep helping young people develop the skills to succeed in life!

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* Financial appeal

Huge thanks this week to Medical Support Offshore Ltd for arranging a very generous donation! And as mentioned above, grateful thanks to everyone who is contributing to the fund in memory of Martin Pearson.

Big thanks also to all our other supporters and friends who have responded with such kindness and generosity to our appeal over the last year. We are not thanking everyone individually in the bulletin only because quite a few people have asked to remain anonymous; but we are truly grateful to all of you. Everyone who has contributed and is still contributing is playing a huge part in getting us through this long period with no voyage income, and ensuring that the charity will be strong enough to do important work with young people who will need us more than ever, as soon as we can safely sail again.

See here for how to make a donation - you can contribute by cheque, phone or PayPal, but please do something if you possibly can. Don't forget that if you complete and return a Gift Aid form (pdf) we can claim back tax on your donation.

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Passports – be prepared

Since 1st January 2021, British passport holders travelling to the EU will need to ensure that on the day you travel, your passport has at least 6 months left, and it must also be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left). If you’re planning to sail with us once we get up and running again, do make sure your passport is in order in case your voyage might be able to sail to France. You might find it convenient to get it renewed while travel isn’t possible so that you don’t have to send it off for renewal later on!

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Raise funds for OYT South if you're shopping online!

"What a fool I was!" says Mark Todd.

"For ages I've seen in the bulletin that Easyfundraising is a good way to raise money for charity, but I never got round to doing anything about it, and when Caz told me how easy it was, I didn't listen.

I thought it might be a hassle, or that I'd have to remember to do something when I bought stuff online, or that it probably wasn't really worthwhile.

This week I finally got round to it and it turns out it's a REALLY EASY way to raise money for the charity I care about ... and I definitely should have done it sooner.

It takes a minute or two to sign up; you can do it on a desktop, tablet and/or phone, and you can install a widget that flags up when a donation is available. Once that's done, imagine you're looking to buy - say - a rainbow unicorn: just put "rainbow unicorn" in your usual search box, and the list of results shows you which sites come with donations, and how much. It's up to you what to pick and whether to accept the donation from the site, but a huge choice of sites will offer a donation - and it doesn't cost you a penny.

I don't know why I didn't do it sooner ... but if there's anyone else who has been like me and just not got round to it, PLEASE click the link now and sign up!"


OYT South is also registered with Amazon Smile which makes donations to us when people shop - Amazon will donate 0.5% of the net purchase price on eligible purchases. If you ever shop with Amazon, do have a look - once you pick Ocean Youth Trust South as your chosen charity and start using, you don't need to do anything further, and all your other Amazon account settings remain unchanged.

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OYT South social media – please get involved
One of the simplest ways you can help us while we can’t sail is to keep looking at our social media pages and share, retweet or like as many posts as possible. This all helps to make sure other people hear about us too – and the more we can keep alive the interest in our charitable work, the more people might help us now or start to think about sailing with us in future. Maybe you’ve got a community group, a local page, even a street WhatsApp where members might like to know that you are involved with a charity that could be of interest to them?

We are on Facebook at - please do give us a Like! If you were friends with John Laing on our old page ( please do move to the new page now.

We are also on Twitter @oytsouth so please follow us!

And Instagram @oyt_south

And LinkedIn Ocean Youth Trust South

Please note that OYT South has a policy that our adult staff and volunteers should not make or accept individual online friend requests with crew members aged under 18, or vulnerable adults. Crew members can use the sites to stay in touch with the boat and with each other, but not with individual staff and volunteers.

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Branded clothing
OYT South branded clothing available - please see here. You can buy hoodies (in a wide range of colours), fleeces, short- and long-sleeved t-shirts, baseball caps, beanie hats, polo shirts and more, all with OYT South's logo!

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Raise And Sail - website for anyone looking to raise money to come sailing
Raise And Sail is a section of this website full of ideas, information and support for young people who would like to raise money in order to come sailing with us. Huge thanks to Fiona Keen and Emma Burrows for putting Raise And Sail together. We hope you will find it useful - let us know how you get on as we can add success stories and new ideas to the site in due course.

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New readers' welcome and introduction
If you have recently registered your interest in OYT South, welcome to our newsletter, which is sent out almost every week, normally on a Friday, and is also copied onto the website.

If you have just started receiving this newsletter by email, it is because we believe you have signed up and consented to receive it - perhaps by emailing us to ask for it, completing a form on our website, or adding your email address to the book on board where people can sign up to receive news, as well as leaving comments. If this was a mistake or you simply decide you want to stop receiving the newsletter, just press “reply” to the email and write UNSUBSCRIBE at the top, or email webmaster1@oytsouth asking to unsubscribe.

Each week the newsletter includes a wide range of news from the boat and from the charity, including details of voyages available for young people; adult voyages; opportunities for adult volunteers both ashore and afloat, and much more. We find that while some people read the bulletin almost every week, many others dip in and out, and read it when it's convenient - which is why some items are repeated. New items are marked with an asterisk * so that if you did read it last week, you can see which sections you can safely skip.

Please feel free to join in any OYT South activities - nothing here is restricted to long-standing members or people who already know one another. New people are always very welcome!

If you need an introduction to the work of OYT South, you should find a lot of useful information on our website. But essentially, we are a registered charity (no. 1079959) which exists to offer adventure under sail as a personal development opportunity for young people aged 12-25, from the widest possible range of backgrounds. A high proportion of our young crew members are disadvantaged or deserving in some way: many of these sail in groups organised by other charities, youth clubs, special schools and so on, and will fill the bulk of our term-time voyages. But those from more fortunate backgrounds are also welcome to sail, either in groups or by coming as individuals on a mixed voyage. Every year we run a variety of shorter local voyages plus longer adventure trips - sometimes including Tall Ships races during the summer holidays. If you are aged 12-25 and hoping to sail as a crew member, take a look here - and this section is also useful for adults who are thinking of organising a voyage for a young person. Adults planning to organise a full group voyage should also see here. Adults who want to sail themselves should see here.

We have a professional staff skipper and engineer, but our watch leaders are normally all volunteers, who combine sailing skills with an interest in working with young people. You can find more information here - how the system works, how to join, and profiles of existing staff and volunteers.  

To volunteer for OYT South ashore, please see here. To help with the vessel's annual refit, see here.

It is a very expensive business maintaining a boat, running an office and employing staff. If you want to help us, please become a member of OYT South. Or see here for information on making a donation.

If you have any questions, please do email - or contact the office.

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Receiving this newsletter by email
Many thanks to all those who have given consent to receiving this newsletter by email. If you are not currently getting it by email and would like to, please just click here Newsletter Subscribe and press "send", or email

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“To be honest I never wanted to come, but I'm glad I did because I have learnt and seen so much!" Charlotte