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My challenge to you is simple – dare to dream…. 

If you follow that dream, who knows where you will end. 

Sir Robin Know-Johnston

 As the football world raced around trying to cut deals on the last day of the football transfer window, 12 yachts ‘quietly’ set of from Portsmouth on an 11 months race around the world.  I’m talking about the Clipper Race started about 20 years ago by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who was the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world in 1969.

I’m not about to have a go at football – I do love the beautiful  game!  It is, however ironic that each 70 foot yacht has around 22-24 members of crew; a number almost equivalent to the number of football players on a football field.

According to Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, when he first had the idea of organising a non-professional around the world yacht race 20 years ago, he couldn’t possibly have imagined just how big the event would become.  Or indeed how many lives it would change and how many opportunities it would present to those brave enough to rise to the challenge.

Sir Robin goes on to explain…

The Clipper Race has changed immeasurably but its core values remain.  It is still a truly unique yacht race, open to anyone no matter how experienced or inexperienced, no matter how old, mo matter what background.  The beauty of the ocean is that it doesn’t care if you are a seasoned ocean racer or a nurse on your first crossing; it still serves up the challenges at the same intensity.  People take on the Clipper Race because they have a desire that sets them apart.  They want to live life to the full.

The easy choices in life often offer no pleasure; it is the hard and difficult challenges that bring the satisfaction or real achievement.  I remember my first circumnavigation, the challenges faced in 1968 to raise the money I needed to get my campaign up and running.  The sacrifices I had to make, that my family had to make.  My dream was always to make the globe’s oceans more accessible and to give people the opportunity to do what I had done, with far less of a sacrifice but with the same weather – gales, the Doldrums, trade winds, freezing cold and blistering heat.  You will be tested, pushed, challenged and ultimately inspired.

Against this backdrop I guess it’s no surprise that when I had the opportunity to speak to Sir Knox-Johnston he told me that the most important things for young people to learn are literacy, numeracy and character.

In many ways literacy and numeracy are obvious – they form the bedrock for all other subjects in school; together with the great ability to interact with the world. Character however provides the how of how we interact. The Clipper Race crew members live in very close proximity to people that were literally strangers to them before the trip commenced; navigating the oceans at times with nothing in sight but the sea and the sky will go a long, long way to further develop their characters whether they are 18 or 60.  However, what about the rest of us?

I think the way in which we interact with directly interact with others over the course of our lifetimes will take us a long way.  Critically also is what we read, learn from others and the places that we travel to.

With this in mind, I’m working on a website with the help of Milton Keynes College to enable young people (between the ages of 16 and 25) from across the world to tell stories about themselves that other young people can read. and learn from. Its early days yet, however who do you know who might like to contribute or would just find it interesting to have a read from time to time.



Clipper Race –

BeingMe –

Susan Popoola runs Conning Towers Ltd, an HR organisation focused on Talent Management and HR Transformation and Engaged For Success a Social Enterprise. She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective and Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain. She is also Winner Women4Africa Author of the Year 2013

Copyright 2013. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

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