These days will come again


OYT South bulletin 19th March 2021

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

* Prolific’s Big Virtual Voyage starts in TEN days – 1,269 miles pledged already - please get involved and get fundraising!

As the countdown begins to the start of Prolific’s Big Virtual Voyage NEXT MONDAY, we’ve had 1,269 miles pledged by 29 people! We might be sailing as far as Russia, the Azores or Iceland!

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, or a team pledge like ten miles between a family of four? And you don't even have to pledge your miles in advance if you're not sure what you can do next week – just let us know about any miles you find you can contribute during the event!

If you can't contribute any miles, you can always think about sponsoring someone else (we have £2,363 in sponsorship already).

Here’s how it works:

Over the course of next week (Monday 22nd March to Sunday 28th March) we’re going to virtually recreate an adventurous voyage, but since Prolific can’t go sailing, we are asking everyone to travel as many miles as you can, by any method you’d like: cycle, run, walk, swim, cartwheel, skateboard.

All you need to do is email at the end of each day to say how many miles you have contributed that day. Holly will add them all up and mark an X on the chart showing where that distance might have taken Prolific. And you can get people to sponsor you to complete your miles.

During the week we will keep you updated, on social media and hopefully also on the website here – not merely where the virtual Prolific has reached, but also with ideas for what else might be happening on board – what meals we could have cooked, what music the crew might have been listening to, what games we might have been playing, what weather conditions we might have encountered. PLEASE join in, on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, with ideas, suggestions or questions. Imagine you were on board: what might be happening? What would you like to be doing? What have you really missed over the last year?

We have set up a Justgiving page to make it easy to collect donations. If you can’t join in yourself, please sponsor someone else and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to do the same!

If you have already pledged your miles for the week, PLEASE don’t forget to email and say what you have done each day. We don’t want to see the virtual Prolific hardly moving on Monday and Tuesday because people have forgotten to report and we only get your figure once you’ve completed your weekly total!

Virtual Voyage

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* Join in other events during the Virtual Voyage – Film Night, Bedtime Story and Live Cookalong!
Our Virtual Voyage – like all our other voyages – is about far more than just the sailing, and there will be other fun activities during the week which you can join even if you’re not contributing any miles.

On Monday 22nd at 8pm it's a film night, with us all getting the popcorn ready then pressing play at the same time! We'll be able to chat about it on our Facebook page, as though we're sitting in the saloon together with the projector on. The chosen film is …. Wonder Woman (the 2017 film, available on Amazon).

On Wednesday 24th at 9pm Mark will be reading a bedtime story aired on Facebook, so be sure to share that with your little ones (or your slightly older ones too)

On Thursday 25th at 6.30pm, we're going to do a live cookalong on zoom, making chef Anna Jones' Saag Aloo Shepherd's Pie from her book "One". So please do get hold of the ingredients in advance and join us then from your own kitchens, ready for a catch up with each other and to decide if we put this dish on our voyage menu for the rest of the season or not! Adapting the recipe to suit what's already in your cupboard is of course allowed. Alternatively make the recipe in your own time and share a photo of the dish with us to admire.

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* In memory of Tony Chamberlain

OYT South has recently received a very generous donation in memory of Tony Chamberlain, to help us continue to offer bursary funding to young people who would otherwise struggle to take part in our voyages. We thought members would like to hear a bit about Tony!

In the 1970s when earlier Ocean Youth Club boats including Duet, Theodora and Equinox were being added to or supplanted by the new Robert Clark ketches, Tony Chamberlain came on the Ocean Youth Club scene.

He had been a boy seaman in the Royal Navy, but two slips in protocol seemed to indicate that he was not destined for high office:

First, in a shooting competition in the Malta Fleet, he beat the Admiral!

Second, he fell overboard in Portland Harbour as the ship manoeuvred to anchor. This is considered desertion.

With other adventures under his belt, he found himself in Hamble in time to take over the OYC vessel Samuel Whitbread when Peter Hambly took delivery of Sir Thomas Sopwith. The Southern Area of the Ocean Youth Club now had two new boats which sailed, sometimes in company but mostly not, covering the Channel and venturing south to Brittany.

Tony seemed to be born to be a sail training skipper. The story was never about him. Whilst taking the job extremely seriously, he never took himself seriously. Jokes were plentiful. Bosuns and 2nd mates were encouraged to fulfil their potential, as were crew members, many of whom returned for another go.

At the end of 1978 a Transatlantic opportunity tempted him away, but even with wealthy guests on big sailing boats, the spirit of the OYC was never far away – to everyone's enjoyment.

The offering of Bursary support after his death was important to him, as he himself had gained so much to take forward in his life, not least friendships, chuckles and great memories.

Tony Chamberlain

Tony Chamberlain

Tony Chamberlain

(With thanks to Lindy Chamberlain)

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* Prolific refit news
Georgia is away from refit this week as she is helping Ollie Bowden deliver a yacht from Cowes to Plockton (a village on Loch Carron on the Scottish mainland but close to Skye) alongside Jake and Oran from last winter’s refit team. This morning they were heading for Land's End. There will be a short pause here to contemplate this photo and feel jealous of people actually getting out on the water:

Georgia Jake Oran

Meanwhile, Josh is working on the engine and taking the fresh water pump off to track a leak:


And Holly has been continuing to work on the plumbing and woodwork.

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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* 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 we were reporting that “The first voyage of the year starts tomorrow!!!!” This had been the first OYT South refit involving a core team of full-time volunteers, with Julian “Dinghy Boy” Watkins (who became Staff Bosun a few years later) completing the entire winter, Jenny “Phoebe” Swatton doing all but the last few weeks, and Sarah Hughes doing January to March. They proved that this could be a successful model, not merely for completing effective refits but also in many cases attracting people who stayed with the charity for years. Often the refit core team opens opportunities for young people in the sailing industry – including our Staff Cadet, Georgia, who was part of the 2017-18 core team, or Jake and Oran from the 2019-20 team who are at sea this week with Georgia and one of our first mates, Ollie Bowden, delivering a yacht from Cowes to a Scottish loch!

Back in 2004, we had our coding inspection with an inspector who had seen the boat before and this time noted that not only could he find no defects at all, he was also very complimentary indeed about the boat's condition, and said it was obvious that we had worked really hard and truly cared about her.

In this week in 2005 we were once again able to announce a successful re-launch and coding inspection, reporting that “John Laing looks amazing, in better condition than I have ever seen her”, and just about to start a shakedown weekend with the first youth voyage starting on the Monday.

This week in 2008 was quite dramatic. It started fine, with the tent coming down on the Sunday:



On Monday, though, a high tide and gales brought the River Hamble right into the yard, flooding up to the second rung of John Laing’s ladder and providing the first test of our antifoul. Cars on the front were flooded (luckily our van had been moved); all the sheds were flooded, and our second shed in Gosport was flooded too. Luckily most of our kit was either on the boat, or well off the ground in the sheds, or waterproof! All in all, it could have been much worse, as the boats in the yard didn’t start falling over and causing real damage; and the floods didn’t break up the ground too much for the heavy yard crane to move. So the scaffolding came down on Tuesday as planned; John Laing was launched on a very windy Wednesday; the masts went in on Thursday, and she was moved back round to her usual berth in Ocean Village.

masts in

Amidst all the excitement, one of our volunteers dropped our van keys into the Hamble, fetched a magnet to fish for them and then dropped the magnet too. Luckily someone was able to provide a second magnet and we got everything back!

In 2009 the weather was better for the launch and getting the masts back in:


masts in

James Boyce officially took over as Staff Skipper:


And Sparky was in his natural habitat:


We had had an email from John Gilmour at Dumpton School, the first client of the season, saying “We are all very excited about our forthcoming trip and really can't wait to join”.

There was also excitement in this week in 2010 as we made the first announcement about the charity’s 50th anniversary celebrations, due to take place the following October, with plenty of afternoon events and a dinner for 350 people.

Back in 2011, Prince William was shortly to marry Kate Middleton and they had asked for contributions to a charitable fund instead of wedding presents – and the Ocean Youth Trust was one of the chosen charities (including all the separate regional OYT areas).

Meanwhile the team was finishing the refit and John Laing had passed another coding inspection. And whereas here in 2021 we are working together on our Virtual Voyage, a decade ago we were cheering on one of our volunteers, Jez Snead, who had entered the Paris marathon to raise funds for us. This proved to be a better choice than the previous year when he had done an Ironman in Switzerland for us without have focussed on the likelihood that there might be some quite big hills involved! He said later that even the swim leg felt like crawling up a mountain …

Also in this week we published the Annual Report and Accounts for the year ending 31st October 2010.  The Report included a lot of feedback from young people who had benefitted from sailing with us. Two 14-year olds from a project in Chichester wrote “We were very worried at first to come on the trip because we didn't want to be sick or fall off the boat, but when we got on the boat we didn't feel that worried anymore because the sea staff made us feel welcome and told us everything would be fine … it was great, we all enjoyed it and would love to do it again. Thanks for the opportunity.” Their teacher told us about a number of students whose attendance and ability to stay out of trouble improved markedly after sailing with us. As so often, the confidence and self-esteem gained on the voyage made a lasting difference; while the fact that they had been chosen for the voyage sent a very powerful message that their school cared about them, hadn’t written them off, believed they were capable of achieving more, and had also noticed that they didn’t have the same opportunities for trips or fun as many of their more fortunate peers.

A 19-year old who had previously been street-homeless wrote: “The best thing about the boat trip was that I learned something new and made some awesome new friends and that the trip itself really put a smile on my face. The worst thing was that we wasn’t on the boat long enough.” And a 17-year old with a history of self-harm following repeated family breakdowns wrote: “Being on the John Laing was a really good experience for me as I got to meet new people, challenge myself and feel more confident in myself.”


A 16-year-old from a deprived area in Tower Hamlets wrote “I enjoyed myself. I got to meet new people and make plenty of new friends. This is an experience I will not forget.” Staff who referred her and a friend for the voyage told us they went home very positive, telling all their friends how they had done something amazing. “It was culturally very different for them – almost as extreme as being able to go in to school and tell people they had flown to the moon for the week!”

A 14-year old wrote to the donor who had funded her place: “The voyage was an amazing experience and I am grateful that I was given the chance. Being in such a different environment has given me more confidence in myself, and bigger ambitions for what I plan to do in the future … as well as it being a physical journey it was definitely an emotional one too. The actual sailing was the most exhilarating experience I have ever had. It was so uplifting, after a couple of negative days, to watch miles of waves and sky fly past as we sailed through the water.”


In 2012 we had a grant from Sport Relief and in this week, BBC South wanted to film some pre-voyage preparations. So we had nine of the young people from the following week’s crew on board for a look round the boat and an introduction to their voyage, alongside people from Sport Relief plus Dee Caffari, the first woman to sail solo, non-stop around the world in both directions and the only woman to complete 3 non-stop circumnavigations. We were live on the BBC South lunchtime news; a film was recorded for the evening news; Mark Todd did the Radio Solent breakfast show live along with David, one of the young crew members; and Mark and Dee also did Radio Solent drivetime in the evening.

In 2013 we had been busy cleaning both the boat and the refit house and we were all ready for the shakedown voyage:


In 2016 the team was working hard on both Prolific and John Laing – the former with a lot of refit work still to do but the latter almost ready for her final season of sailing with us.

In 2018 Peta was trying to entice people down to Prolific for the final volunteers’ weekend of the winter, and was promising cheesecake … Spring was in the air:

Refit Spring

Also in 2018 we published a great tale of the origins of the Ocean Youth Trust: Peter Tracey’s account of a voyage in 1951, when he was aged 14, with Chris Ellis – part of the experience that lead Chris to set up the Ocean Youth Club nine years later. It is a very lively account of a different era and well worth a read!


This time last year we were able to announce that the refit was finished and we gave huge thanks to the core team of Peta, Josh, Georgia, Oran, Ian and Jake, plus all the volunteers who had helped for a few hours, days or weeks. Mark Todd, our Chief Executive (and former Staff Skipper for nine years) visited the boat this week having not been on board for a while and was blown away by what a great condition she was in and how fantastic everything looked. At that stage we knew that COVID-19 was likely to cause some disruption to the start of the season but no-one guessed that the shakedown sail would turn out to be the only time we would take the boat out in the whole of 2020. The core team certainly deserved their day in the sunshine, as all their hard work laid a foundation which meant we have been able to keep the boat in good condition all through the pandemic and we face a manageable amount of work to be able to sail again as soon as it is safe:






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 to Tony and Lindy Chamberlain and the Royal Southern Yacht Club Trust for a very generous donation to bursary funds in Tony’s memory.

Grateful thanks also to the family and friends of Martin Pearson who are donating so generously to the fund in his memory.

Big thanks too to P66 whose latest donation from employee fundraising efforts reached us this week!

Thanks also to the family of Nick Steel who have been donating to mark his birthday!

And of course thank you to everyone who has been sponsoring the people taking part in our Virtual Voyage!

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