Big Brig Reunion: A fond farewell to the Mighty Might Stavros
Over the past few weeks I have been a member of a eight person team arranging the reunion and farewell celebration of the Sail Training vessel - Stavros S Niachros on Saturday 30 September 2017.
The day started at the Round Tower, Portsmouth for me and some of the other committee members. Half of the committee were onboard for the final day sail, the rest of us met some of the previous volunteer crew to see the 'Stavvy' come into Portsmouth for one last time. It was an emotional but noisy start for the day. In honoured tradition led by Emily Quinn - OGGY, OGGY, OY, OY, OY! Banners were flying and the crew on-board echoed our cheers.
After the shore based committee team set up for the evening, everyone met at the Spiced Island pub (and a few more besides, 90 guests in total) to celebrate the amazing 17 years service of this magnificent sail training vessel and the huge impact she and her crew have had on thousands of young people.
It was great evening (even if I do say so myself), with a final captain's wash up, permanent crew long service gifts and prize giving along with a speech from the Tall Ships Youth Trust's Trustee Chairman Jock Lennox . Ade North kept the party going by providing an excellent disco, Natalie Levin made an amazing two tiered cake with a hand painted picture of the Stavvy on the top tier. It was an evening of catching up with long lost shipmates and honouring the dedicated work of all volunteers and permanent crew past and present, attending, absent and in memory of those who had sadly 'pasted the bar'.
It ended with the Shanty 'Leave her, Johny, leave her'. Rather than tears we all stood round and sang along with respect and pride. Stavvy could not have gone out with a more fitting ending.
A big well done to my fellow committee members Jenny Doel-Smith, Natalie Levin, Rachel Ferguson, Erica Hunter, Sarah Asplin, Phil Newson and Kim Williams.
I am sure I speak for all of Stavvy's crew, she is going to be sadly missed, but the memories live forever and lives redirected will always remain true and a lasting testament to what the Stavvy represents - adventure, redirection, self discovery and the creation of unbreakable friendships for life.
Fair winds old gal, and a safe passage on to the next phase of her working life. But for sail training at least, your time by the mast is finally done.