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Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Veterans Outreach Support Fundraising Yacht Sails into Ballyholme Bay

8th April 2020
Aries in Ballyholme Bay Aries in Ballyholme Bay

The yacht Aries has been sheltering in Ballyholme Bay from the strong southerly and while Bangor Marina is closed due to COVID-19.

Aries is a one-off 43 ft steel ketch owned by Simon Layton, a former UKSA instructor and friend of David Bridges whose project this is, a fundraising effort for Veterans Outreach Support. VOS is a drop-in service for ex-members of the British Armed Forces, the Merchant Navy and their partners.

The original aim was to sail around the UK in an anti-clockwise direction hoping that before stopovers they would radio ahead and see if anyone from VOS who would like to join them on the next leg. They had hoped to do some speaking at clubs along the way. But by the time they passed Cape Wrath the lockdown had started so unfortunately for the fund-raising effort, there would be no interaction ashore or additional crew.

David Bridges and Simon Layton with yacht AriesDavid Bridges (left) and Simon Layton with yacht Aries

David from the Isle of Wight is a former member of the Armed Forces who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He served several tours in Northern Ireland and Bosnia and after military service was a finance director of a bank in Jersey but took early retirement after the onset of PTSD and moving to the Island.

He said: "PTSD is a mental condition which affects the brain. It makes me hyper-observant and I'm always looking around to see if I am going to be affected by any trouble around me. It's caused through combat, or what I have seen doing my duty. It gradually hit me ten years after leaving the army and I slipped into depression. I see a psychiatrist who thinks this challenge will give me an objective and will be a calming influence on me."

The pair set off from Yarmouth (IOW) and having picked up a crew member in Portsmouth, continued along the English Channel and then north via Scarborough and Wick, round the north of Scotland followed by Cape Wrath and southwards taking in Kinlochbervie, Skye and Tobermory before entering Belfast Lough.

David's sponsors include the car dealership Esplanade, and IT Specialists, RDS Global. The fundraising page for VOS is here

Published in Belfast Lough
Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down.

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