Nestled on the east coast of Essex at Bradwell-on-Sea Marina is The Cirdan Sailing Trust, a charity that uses sailing as a way of helping disadvantaged young people. Indeed, 2023 is an important year for the charity, which is presently celebrating its 40th anniversary.

During the last 40 years, Cirdan has taken more than 35,000 young people sailing between the ages of 12-25 years old. The charity works across the youth sector to provide young people with an opportunity to develop life skills, increase self-confidence and self-esteem, build resilience and improve communication and teamwork skills. They do this through a residential experience aboard three large offshore sailing vessels where everyone becomes part of the crew, both above and below deck, to face the challenge and adventure of a sea voyage.

The charity works with a variety of groups including special needs and mainstream schools, homeless and supported living, behaviour units, NEETS, low achievers, neurodiverse, home schooled, youth justice services, young carers, early intervention in psychosis service users and people from low income and deprived areas of the UK.

Great British Life: High school girls on Queen Galadriel Credit: The Cirdan Sailing Trust Caption: High school girls on Queen Galadriel Credit: The Cirdan Sailing Trust Caption:

A voyage at sea is a powerful, positive and effective way of helping young people, in particular those who struggle in mainstream society. The experience takes them away from their usual environment where, for many, the pressures and negative influences are detrimental to their development and wellbeing, and places them in a confined but safe environment where, alongside their peers and fellow crew members, they face the challenges that produce positive outcomes. It’s not just sailing skills that participants learn. Cirdan’s voyages are self-catering and encourage the young people in planning healthy eating menus and budgeting prior to the voyage, and then involve them in the food preparation and cooking once on board.

This season has been a busy one for the charity. Queen Galadriel has been sailing from both the East and South coasts, helping young carers, sheltered housing groups and special needs schools experience the benefits of life at sea. Faramir has completed a 10-week circumnavigation around the UK’s coastline working with early intervention in psychosis service users. These are people who have experienced their first episode of psychosis. The average cost per person of one night in a psychiatric hospital can equate to a week of ‘Adventure Therapy’. These residentials take people away from the clinical environment of a hospital and surround them with water and wildlife, which has a positive impact on their wellbeing and encourages them to open up about their struggles.

Each year, Duet runs a series of six-day Gold Duke of Edinburgh Residentials on both the East and South coasts, providing an exhilarating sailing experience for participants. Duet may be the smallest in Cirdan’s fleet, but she is often the quickest. Duet also plays host to several voyages for over 25 year olds, for a mixture of both novice and experienced sailors. These voyages help to raise vital funds to help support the charity’s life-changing work with young people.

Great British Life: Faramir - one of the vessels used by The Cirdan Sailing Trust Credit: The Cirdan Sailing TrustFaramir - one of the vessels used by The Cirdan Sailing Trust Credit: The Cirdan Sailing Trust

Both Duet and Faramir have taken part in some challenging races this year. In July, Duet took part in the Round the Island Race, whilst Faramir battled 30 knot winds during the Tall Ships Race from Den Helder to Hartlepool and came second in her class and forth overall!

Cirdan’s Voyage of Discovery Fund scheme subsidises the cost of a voyage to ensure young people can participate in, and benefit from, the challenge of life at sea. ‘We rely on the generosity of grant making trusts and individual supporters to operate the scheme. Regular challenges we face include raising enough money to continue our work with young people,’ says Ed Humphries, CEO. ‘In celebration of our 40th anniversary milestone, we are aiming to raise an additional £40,000 this year. We are suggesting a donation of £1 for every year we have been running. A donation of £40 would help us continue to change lives at sea, but we would appreciate any monetary donation people can make.’

All three of the charity’s vessels will be attending the Hermitage Community Moorings’ open weekend in London on Saturday 16 - Sunday 17 September so do pop by and look around the boats. Cirdan is running a Grand Draw with 40 prizes for 40 years up for grabs. Top prizes include a weekend charter on Duet, champagne afternoon tea at the Ritz, Tottenham Hotspur FC tickets. Winning tickets will be drawn at the 40th celebrations in September. To purchase tickets, please visit the charity’s website or call 01621 776684.

To help the charity achieve their additional target of £40,000 this year, visit


Feedback from participants

‘I learnt that it’s a beautiful world and life is worth living.’
Early Intervention in Psychosis service user

‘This experience was transformative, restorative and simply out of this world.’
Homeless charity service user

‘We grew in confidence, became more resilient and finished the week with a ‘can do’ attitude.’
High School student

‘The excitement was something I don't think I will ever forget. It was an extraordinary experience.’
DofE Gold Residential participant

‘The children experienced the opportunity for taking responsibility on the vessel, gained a real sense of pride in their achievements and developed a real positive pro-social identity.’
Youth Justice Service

‘It built resilience, problem solving, friendships, self-esteem and confidence.’
Young carers group

Lord of the Rings connections

The Cirdan Trust was founded in 1983 by Rev Bill Broad to serve young people in the south east of England and the Faramir Trust in 1991 to do the same for those of the north east. In 2002, the two trusts were conjoined under the title The Cirdan Sailing Trust. Those of you who are Lord of the Rings fans will notice strong connections with Tolkien. Both trusts were named after characters in Lord of The Rings – Cirdan the lesser-known character is the shipwright in the trilogy. The Tolkien theme continues today with Queen Galadriel and Faramir still part of the fleet and the present day Cirdan logo includes a design which represents the seven stars and the white tree of Gondor.


Queen Galadriel

A Baltic trader from 1937, Queen Galadriel is the flagship of the trust and can accommodate 16 people.


A Bermuden ketch from 1981, Faramir is the workhouse of the trust and can take groups of 15 people.


A classic Edwardian racing yacht from 1912, Duet is the oldest boat in our fleet and can take 7 people.