SUPERYACHT CREW INVESTS TIME AND MONEY IN AMAZING GRACE FOUNDATIONMonday 12th March 2012
By Alison Sly-Adams
Photo by Hans Lammers
It is often commented on, that the only parts of Antigua that see any benefit from the yachting sector are English and Jolly Harbours, those being the main destinations for visiting yachts. While that is where you may be able to clearly see the immediate impact, the trickle down effect in the economy comes in some interesting ways.
Take the yacht crew you spot on your next visit to the Epicurean with five trollys full of provisions. This food is being purchased to stock up for the impending arrival of the yacht’s owner, charter guests or perhaps to feed the crew until the aforementioned arrive. Whichever it is, simple economics tells you that this is money that is seeping its way into the economy in a way that many people haven’t understood before.
Next time you see a crew in the supermarket, check if they are wearing M/Y Slipstream
t-shirts as their food may well be intended for someone completely different. Just over a week ago the yacht arrived back in Falmouth Harbour Marina between charters and with some time before the next charter, Antigua was the crew’s island of choice to spend that time. A couple of the team were heading off on vacation the next day while the remaining crew would continue to work on maintenance and planning for their next guests.
On their first full day in Antigua they took a taxi straight over to Epicurean and did a mammoth grocery buy, but this time the lucky recipients were the residents and staff of the Amazing Grace Foundation.
The home for children with severe disabilities does an ‘amazing job’, every pun intended, of looking after children whose disabilities mean they need 24/7 care and special assistance. It also assists more than 160 less severe, but no less disabled children living in the community. Being a charity it relies entirely on donations from caring citizens and businesses and fundraising efforts to be able to continue this service.
Crew members of M/Y Slipstream, having been to Antigua many times over the years, returned to Antigua late last year with a purpose of not only spending time in port and enjoying the facilities of the harbour, but also with a plan that had evolved during their travels around the world that they wanted to help others less fortunate themselves.
It started during a trip to Kenya a couple of years ago when they decided to pool a percentage their tips and use those funds to give money to a local charity. The crew, having found the whole experience very rewarding and knowing that they would soon be spending some time in Antigua, began researching charities in Antigua and the wider Caribbean to find a charity that they all felt was worthy of benefitting from their time and money. Having done their research, spoken to the team running the charity and deciding the cause was certainly a worthwhile one, the first stop was to visit and meet the children and caregivers.
Very quickly they went back with weed whackers, paint, brushes, hammers and tools to give the exterior of the building a facelift and deal with the overgrown garden. Inside the electrical wiring was deemed not safe, and they paid a local electrician to come to the home and put right the issues. Next stop new mattresses plus new fans to offer some much needed cooling and some basic computer essentials to assist the administration of the Foundation.
When Kathy and I visited the home to meet the crew, half of them arrived in a taxi full of food and dry goods which was a fantastic site to see as bag after bag disembarked with each crew member until there was no floor space left in the large kitchen. A second taxi arrived from the other direction at virtually the same time with the remaining crew members and was similarly unloaded revealing fans, tools and other much-needed equipment that had been purchased by the crew.
Captain Phil Stevens said ‘when we first started doing our research, we were initially concerned about how the home was run and that the funds or assistance we gave would be put to good use for the benefit of the residents. Having met Clarence Pilgrim, director of the organization, and the staff, our fears were allayed and we felt this was indeed a fantastic charity with which to work.”
The smiles on the faces of all the crew were testament to how vested in the project they have become. On entering the building they called out welcomes by name to each of the carers and children and clearly feel very connected to the cause.
For Captain Phil this is not just a one-off gesture from him and the crew, and clearly the fact that they have invested their own time in the charity and not just money speaks volumes. He would like to see other yachts pick up the mantle and look at what they can do to assist in the countries that they visit. ‘For us it is a privilege to visit so many beautiful countries and benefit from the hard work and fantastic facilities that the residents and governments have developed to allow us to do so. We therefore would like to encourage and invite other yachts to think about doing the same thing and help in whatever way they can, to help those less fortunate than ourselves’.
We were delighted to meet such a positive, happy and community-spirited group of young people from M/Y Slipstream and as for the residents and caregivers of Amazing Grace, it was smiles all around.
As an aside for me, what a delight to meet someone from my hometown, a small town in the middle of Shropshire in the UK, and now the skipper of a beautiful 196.9-foot super yacht. And nice to see that the community spirit we both grew up with can be developed and used in a career of such great achievement no matter where he is in the world. Phil, Kudos to you and your crew for making such a superb effort.
If you are a yacht and are interested in looking into adopting a charity, either as a one-off or on a longer-term basis, take a look at some of the charitable organizations in Antigua here: http://www.antiguanice.com/v2/islandguide.php?cat=56
Feel free to contact us if you want to be pointed in the right direction.
Article and photos (except top photo) by Alison Sly-Adams.
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