MERSEYSIDE Adventure Sailing Trust (MAST), a Liverpool-based charity, was today (02 June 2019) honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award which a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

MAST enables young people, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, to develop key life skills, such as self-confidence, teamwork, leadership and communication, through the unique and challenging experience of crewing tall ships on the high seas, over the last 10 years.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service recognises outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Her Majesty the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and winners are announced annually on 2 June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.

Jim Graves, founder and chair of MAST, which has trained 1,432 young people aboard tall ships, said: “I am deeply honoured to accept this magnificent award on behalf of MAST and everyone involved with the charity.

“This is our tenth anniversary since starting in 2009 and to achieve such national recognition for what MAST does is beyond my wildest dreams. This award is about recognising all the hard work of our volunteers, ambassadors, supporters and the success of our trainees.

“Without the dedication, commitment and time of these 60 or more individuals working for MAST over the last 10 years, contributing their many diverse skills to create our unique opportunities for local youngsters, there would simply be no MAST, never mind this fantastic accolade of receiving a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.”

MAST’s main event is its annual Apprentice Ship Cup, a tall ship regatta, in which competing teams each summer sail in a set of races around the Irish Sea and Western Scotland. The long-term aim is to make Liverpool the tall ship centre for the northern UK and to increase the number of young people aged 16-30 years taking part.

A Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service spokesperson said that each year more voluntary groups apply for the award and there was now a very diverse range of subject areas. These include volunteers helping mental health sufferers overcome problems through sport, manning cafés and information centres in remote locations and mentoring children with a parent in prison.