John Chapman Peel Ports

John Chapman is a Terminal Engineering Manager based at Peel Ports Heysham

The Apprentice Ship Cup challenge 2014 saw 17 young apprentices from Peel Ports Group sail from Liverpool to Whitehaven and back again. Looking back, John Chapman one of the group’s mentors, reflects on the trip.

After just over a week back on dry land, it’s fair to say that I am missing my time spent at sea with our fantastic group of apprentices, during this year’s MAST Apprentice Ship Cup Challenge – something which I didn’t think I’d be saying when I signed on six months ago.

The experience from my point of view has been truly amazing and I cannot wait to get on board a ship again. Although at times manning and sailing the ship was hard work that feeling you get when you’re out on the water is very rewarding, especially when you can share this with other like-minded people.

Teamwork was essential during the challenge, without it the apprentices would never have survived. We took two different teams, many of whom had never met before, from different parts of the Peel Ports business and brought them together to work as a crew on-board the Pelican of London tall ship.

Our young trainees more than impressed me over the seven days. They were never afraid to shy away from hard work, put their hands to something new and support their fellow crew mates to ensure our ship sailed as smoothly as possible. What’s more the guys always had a smile on their faces when they were doing so – despite seasickness, tiredness and some very misty weather at points.

They are a credit to our company and I hope that they have taken home some very valuable skills and life lessons with them. It has been a truly transformative experience for many of them and the difference in every single one of them from the beginning of the challenge to now, is clearly visible.

As well as learning something new and exciting, the guys and girls have learned to develop their leadership and communication skills and really push themselves to their limits. It has given them a boost to their confidence and self-belief and also helped formed what will hopefully be lifelong friendships with other young apprentices. I hope that they will take on board what they have learned during the challenge and apply this to their various roles within the organisation.

I never thought at the beginning of the week we would be able to sail this ship, but we did and we are all extremely proud of the achievement, although we are all aware what we have achieved is only the tip of the iceberg.

The journey may be over but the memories and the lessons we have all learned will last a lifetime.
This article first appeared in
photo credit Kevin Laitak