Sailing charity opens doors to NHS staff fighting pandemic

A sailing charity that supports injured military veterans has widened its activities to include NHS frontline workers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Turn to Starboard uses ‘the known therapeutic benefits of sailing and the sea’ to help veterans with physical and mental injuries sustained while serving in the British Armed Forces.

Since its launch in 2012, the charity has provided thousands of sailing opportunities to veterans and their families from its base at Falmouth in Cornwall. But as it continues to provide that support, the organisation has also been opened up to NHS staff on the Covid-19 pandemic frontline.

Project Argo is a relief and recovery initiative led by Turn to Starboard to help NHS frontline workers decompress after the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their mental health.

Kaylie Buytenhuys, Project Argo Manager, said: “The unprecedented pressures that have arisen from Covid-19, combined with extreme emotional and physical fatigue, has had a huge impact on frontline NHS staff, with some describing their working environment as a ‘warzone’.

“The toll this is taking is sadly becoming evident as many talk of their own trauma and mental health as a result of these experiences. Our project offers a lifeline to our NHS frontline workers by providing the means to start a journey of relief and recovery using sailing, which has proven highly successful in supporting military veterans.

“Most of our sailing trips are led by former military personnel who have undertaken Turn to Starboard’s training programme and gained professional sailing qualifications. Many have endured traumatic experiences as part of their service and are able to share their experiences and help NHS staff deal with their own personal challenges.”

Turn to Starboard has recently gained permission from The Charity Commission to extend its objectives to meet the need of NHS frontline workers. Additional support and resources have been allocated for NHS workers to ensure the number of sailing opportunities for military veterans is not reduced.

Kaylie said: “This project is already having a profound impact in supporting NHS staff and helping individuals come to terms with their stressful experiences during the pandemic. It provides an ideal opportunity to do something extraordinary for our NHS frontline workers, and where better than in beautiful Cornwall and with like-minded people, who care and understand some of what they have been through.”

One NHS nurse recently helped by the project was Michelle.

“She said: “I can’t even put into words how amazing you made us all feel on our sailing trip from the moment we got there we were welcomed and treated so kindly. You made us escape into a world where all our worries disappeared.”

To get involved, NHS staff should speak to their line manager or head of department in the first instance who are invited to contact Turn to Starboard to discuss sailing opportunities.  For more information please call Kaylie Buytenhuys on 01326 314262 or email

Turn to Starboard relies solely on donations and grants so they can continue to help veterans and NHS workers. To find out more about available services, or to donate, visit

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