When the family returned from Hong Kong in 1992, we were fortunate to be able to find a house by the sea on the South coast. I can see, feel, touch and smell the sea whenever I wish. How happy that makes me.
You may wonder where all this is leading? Earlier this year, in a boat-shed along the coast, I had the opportunity to witness a most unusual form of storytelling. A boat was being built 'from the stuff of peoples lives', a veritable floating collage of memories. The cry had gone out 'We want your wood', with the proviso that with each donation there was the story of how that piece of wood featured in that person's life. In the end, over 1,200 pieces were used to create the most amazing vessel. As well as the boat, there is a book that archives the stories and lives that made all this possible.
The Boat Project
There were donations from all walks of life: there's a section of Brighton pier, a Victorian policeman's truncheon, a 1960's hairbrush used at Pinewood Studios, pencils, hockey sticks, and even a piece of Jimi Hendrix's guitar to name but a few. The public voted to name the boat and eventually 'Collective Spirit' was chosen, a name that encompasses the teamwork behind the construction and the spirit of all who donated to this project.
with thanks to Tom Gruitt
During the Portsmouth Festivities, Collective Spirit has been docked at Gunwharf Keys in Portsmouth and today, she will leave Portsmouth Harbour with Dee Caffari, MBE at the helm and will sail along the coast, stopping at Hastings and Margate before returning to Weymouth in time for the London 2012 Olympics.
The boat's Captain, Major Mike Barham, REME, who has witnessed tough times in battle zones such as Afghanistan, says that sailing Collective Spirit is one of his biggest challenges to date. He says: 'There is nothing like her. I truly have never been entrusted with so much emotional value... she will never be just another boat'.
You can visit The Boat Project here. As storytelling goes, it's a unique one that has certainly captured my imagination. I hope it captures yours too.
Today's story is connected to Sian's Storytelling Sunday. You can see all the links here. We all have a story to tell. Why don't you join in and tell yours?