A VISUALLY impaired sailor from Winchester has been announced as the new chair for the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s (JST) Southampton branch.

Kate Healey, who is visually impaired has been appointed the new chair for the jubilee Sailing Trust's Southampton branch.

She previously worked at Southampton Society for the Blind and taught service users about sight loss awareness and technology accessibility audits, but has reignited her passion for sailing thanks to a recent JST voyage.

The 32-year-old was born with her sight, but due to complications associated with her prematurity, she consequently lost her vision and has been blind ever since.

Kate has not been deterred by her condition and is always ready to face a challenge straight on. Her journey started with Blind Sailing UK, who eventually lead her to the JST.

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Kate said: “I dabbled in sailing at a young age and I enjoyed it, but it was later on that I really discovered my passion for it. It was always a dream of mine to be able to sail across the Atlantic, but I had been declined from sailing programmes before, because of the amount of help I would need. Then I came across the JST. The voyages on offer looked perfect for me and I signed up for one straight away.”

The inclusive charity’s voyages are open for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, giving everyone the opportunity to explore their potential through adventures aboard its tall ship, SV Tenacious. Kate credits the confidence she has gained wholly to the JST and now, as she works as branch chair, she can give something back to the charity that is enabling her to fulfil her dream.

Hampshire Chronicle: Kate Healey

Kate said: “On land, I am dependent on others, but as soon as I stepped on board Tenacious that first time, those dependencies disappeared. It was a tough challenge, but with the help of the fantastic crew and JST volunteers, all my inhibitions vanished, and my social, emotional and physical barriers just fell away.”

Taking on several trips with the charity since, the inspiring sailor can now add driving the helm of a ship to her ever increasing list of impressive credentials.

Patrick Fleming, JST’s Chief Executive, said: “I’m delighted to be welcoming Kate to the JST team. She is truly inspirational and her amazing story highlights why we do what we do.

“Everyone, whatever their circumstances, should have the opportunity to be a part of a sailing crew and reap the benefits of being out on the open water.

“Kate brings with her an extensive amount of experience that all of us at the JST can learn from and I welcome her aboard.”

Kate will be working from home as the JST Southampton branch’s chair.

The JST charity offers people of all abilities the opportunity to climb aboard its tall ship Tenacious for an immersive sailing experience and relies on funding from the public. Since its founding in 1978 the Jubilee Sailing Trust has welcomed more than 50,000 people on board.


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