Sea Cadets aboard the 'Jack Petchey' on maiden voyage down the Thames

MILLIONAIRE businessman Jack Petchey proudly took the helm of the Sea Cadets newest training ship for its maiden voyage down the River Thames. The 84-year-old East End-born entrepreneur put up �1m towards the cost of the 90ft power vessel, which will tak

MILLIONAIRE businessman Jack Petchey proudly took the helm of the Sea Cadets newest training ship for its maiden voyage down the River Thames.

The 84-year-old East End-born entrepreneur put up �1m towards the cost of the 90ft power vessel, which will take more than 550 youngsters to sea every year, to learn sailing and navigation skills.

It's the latest project backed by the Jack Petchey Foundation which was founded 10 years ago, providing more than �60m for youth groups and programmes for youngsters aged 11-25.

10 young Foundation Achievement Award winners were on board for Thursday's launch, as well as Mike Perham, 18, who last August became the youngest person to sail single-handedly round the world.


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The youngsters were "the pick of the bunch", said Jack Petchey, complementing them on their professionalism and high standards. "They looked so smart," he added. "I felt like I was in very exalted company."

Tracy Kilcullen, the Foundation's Chief Operations Officer, described the day as a wonderful celebration of a decade spent helping youngsters maximise their potential and promoting leadership.

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"The weather was fantastic," she said. "Because there were no aeroplanes flying overhead, as all flights were grounded due to the Icelandic ash cloud, it was incredibly peaceful. Perfect sailing conditions."

After a commissioning ceremony at HMS President, at St Katherine's Dock, the "Jack Petchey", sailed to Greenwich and back. Tower Bridge opened specially for the occasion.

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