Derry City Council unveils its five Clipper bursary winners

The Mayor of Derry Ald. Maurice Devenney with the successful Clipper bursary candidates, from left, Niall Boyle, Matt Plumber, Padraig McConway, Shayne McClure and Shauna O'Neill. Included are Geraldine O'Hara, left, and Mena Kearney from the Kickstart 2 Work programme. (2207PG51)

The Mayor of Derry Ald. Maurice Devenney with the successful Clipper bursary candidates, from left, Niall Boyle, Matt Plumber, Padraig McConway, Shayne McClure and Shauna O'Neill. Included are Geraldine O'Hara, left, and Mena Kearney from the Kickstart 2 Work programme. (2207PG51)

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Five budding Derry seafarers are gearing up for the challenge of a lifetime after earning berths in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

The adventurous Derry City Council bursary winners are to represent the city on the ‘Derry~Londonderry’ racing yacht at five different stages of the global event. Niall Boyle (22) from Altnagelvin, Shauna O’Neill (22) from Strand Road, Shayne McClure (39) from Strathfoyle, Matthew Plumber (42) from Sandbank and Padraig McConway (25) from Shantallow. The bursary programme was organised by Derry City Council ‘s KICKSTART to Work Employment Programme to give unemployed local people the chance to take part in the life changing experience.

Each of them will be acting as ambassadors for the city on one of the following legs of the journey - UK to Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town, China to San Francisco, San Francisco to New York and New York to UK which includes a stopover in Derry.

Derry’s Mayor, Alderman Maurice Devenney, yesterday extended his best wishes to the bursary winners on their “life changing journey”.

“The Clipper race is part of our preparations for the 2013 UK City of Culture and part of our international profile to bring the new opportunities for tourism, economic investment and cultural connections to a wider audience,” he added.

Claire Lundy, Marketing and Communications Officer with Derry City Council said the bursary was an “excellent opportunity” for unemployed people from the council area to participate in a major sporting event.

“The bursary was open to unemployed or those participating in an employability programme living in the Derry City Council area who were committed to act as an ambassador to the city and help us share and tell the new story of the city as part of this unique event. Derry City Council’s investment in the bursary and the partnership with KICKSTART meant that it made participation in the race more accessible to people across all walks of life in the city,” she said.

Heather Ewing, from the Clipper Round the World team, said the importance of the bursary was about making it accessible to everyone. “The bursary winners are all novices and we provide an intensive sail training to become a safe and competent member of a race crew. The courses are fully accredited and all crew members undergo theory courses in navigation and meteorology. We are delighted that Council and KICKSTART has come on board to support the event in this way and we are looking forward to working with the bursary winners in this event,” she said.

‘Journal’ reporter Ian Cullen will join the crew of the Derry~Londonderry Clipper racing yacht at Gosport in England next Thursday. From there he’s due to sail to Southampton, where the world’s biggest amateur yachting event is to get underway on Saturday next.