Nikita Morris’ Ocean Youth Trust sailing challenge

Nikita Morris

Nikita Morris of Parklands School on the tall ship James Cook

When Nikita Morris (16) was chosen by the selection team of Roundhay Rotary Club as the candidate from “Gipton Together” she had no idea of the adventure she was about to embark upon. The week, sailing from the Ocean Youth Trust North centre based at North Shields was sponsored by Roundhay Rotary Club as part of its involvement with the “Gipton Together” project.

Nikita, who is a pupil at Parklands School said, “I was very nervous as I would be spending a week with 12 people I had never met before and I am naturally a shy person. I had never been on a boat so had no idea what to expect. We also had to select the menu and cook the food and clear up afterwards.” Nikita and the rest of the crew – all sponsored by Rotary Clubs in the Yorkshire region were increasingly involved in planning each part of the cruise, doing the navigation, getting weather forecasts and learning to become an efficient crew as they learned the elements of seamanship.

Nikita said, “The boat was the ‘James Cook’ which is 21m long and has very large sails which have to be hauled up by hand. We all slept in bunks and had 5 hours on duty and 5 hours rest throughout every day and right through two of the nights so it was very exhausting at times.”


Nikita was so tired at one stage that she was not aware that the boat had to turn around part way to its Aberdeen destination because the waves had reached over 20ft high. “Were you frightened?” she was asked and the replied “I slept through it all and wasn’t aware of the storm.” They had hoped to reach Aberdeen but instead called at other ports on the east coast finally going as far south as Scarborough before returning to North Shields overnight.

Nikita continued, “We saw some amazing sights: four dolphins racing alongside the boat, seals and lots of birds. The sunset as we came out of Scarborough Harbour was just amazing”.

Mark Morris, Nikita’s Dad, when asked if he had noticed any change since she had returned from this experience, said; “She is much more organised and her cooking has certainly improved. She had a great experience and made lots of new friends and has a lot more confidence. It has been a wonderful experience for her and I am proud that she rose to such a challenge.”

Terri Loney, the founder of “Gipton Together”, stated; “Roundhay Rotary has provided us with the equipment for our Karate classes and this extra involvement in sailing has been the icing on the cake. “Gipton Together” is providing the local kids with an outlet for their energy and talent as we provide them with the activities they want, not what we think they want. What we are also trying to achieve is to bring the whole community together and reduce the suspicions and misunderstandings between young and old and the police.”

“Gipton Together was featured on Sunday in the Channel 4 series ‘The Secret Millionaire’ and benefitted from a donation from Charles Allen.