Welcome Aboard

Here are some responses from just a few people who have made it down to Trinity, our floating centre. 

Jan Roth – Manorside

FACT is a wonderful example of bringing children, adults and communities together through sharing. Sharing of experiences, sharing conversations, sharing food and a fabulous space.

I have been bringing groups of children to Trinity for many many years. The children are from north London from many different cultures and religions. FACT embraces all of the children; catering for their every need.

Nic Maxwell – Cedar Hall

Cedar Hall School returned to Fellowship Afloat for the 25th consecutive year this July. Why Tollesbury? Because of the wonderful people who look after us so well! Our staff have visited other outdoor activity centres but you cannot match the family atmosphere of FA. Every year there are tears when it’s time to leave!

A highlight this year was seeing how a boy with very low self-esteem grew in confidence over the week. By the end of the week he was smiling and talking after a very sullen beginning. Time and again those who have had disadvantaged starts to life find FA to be a place of hope, acceptance and warmth.

We look forward to next year and thank God for the vision, perseverance and love of the team on Trinity.

Robin Archibald – Broadfields

Most people reflecting on the current divisive challenges faced by the population of our country are likely to agree on the need to work towards more understanding between those from diverse backgrounds. Jonathan Sacks once said that “…a world that has no room for difference, has no room for humanity itself.”

My experience of Fellowship Afloat over twenty years visiting as a Headteacher and group leader is that one week on board the ship strengthens relationships, builds trust, tolerance and understanding between all participants, children, staff …and crew. Why? I think the clue is in the name – Fellowship Afloat. To me, fellowship is about recognising and valuing that we are all brothers and sisters in our human family.

The ethos of FACT draws individuals together through the wonderfully exciting and purposeful activities and experiences around the ship and on the water, led by the crew and volunteers who are great role models for visiting young people. And there is a sense of fun on Trinity too, with plenty of joy, laughter and smiles. All ingredients that allow the best of humanity to emerge. So, in my opinion, life on board is an example of a human community at its best, an example that I wish more could see and understand.

Helen Bull – Care For The Family

Why do you make the journey to FACT?

I make the journey to FACT to facilitate a group of single parents to have the most wonderful fun filled holiday with their children.

The beautiful setting with amazing staff who always go the extra mile, never judge, but simply love and reach out to families whose lives have not turned out as they would have anticipated, and give them a fabulous time, is an incredibly powerful example of God’s love.

How does it bring together / unite your group / cross boundaries?

It doesn’t matter what race, culture, age or faith, families leave changed, treasured, exhausted from having the most amazing time with their children but so fulfilled at having achieved things they never dreamed they would even try.

The families often comment that there is something different about the place and the people! Encouraging them to encourage and support each other to share, learn from each other, relax and achieve is amazing.

Any particular highlights? Or an encouraging story or change? Or anything else that supports our focus?

Highlights for me:

  • Watching parents relax in a safe environment, which isn’t always how they have felt or where they have been, to just ‘be’, enjoy, take part, have a night out, and have time with their children. There is such power in giving parents a break from the everyday need to be everything for their children and instead be able to watch and enjoy with them.
  • Seeing parents and children achieve what they never expected to – high ropes etc
  • Having conversations about Jesus because they know there is something different about everyone but they can’t put their finger on it
  • Encouraging those with faith to keep going

Ray Skudder – Falcon Camp Leader

Why do you make the journey to FACT?

We have annually travelled to FACT for over ten years. We believe that it really is a place where we can reconnect with what makes us “us” as a team and as individuals. Several of our team describe it as a ‘thin’ place where God touches our hearts and realigns us for the year. It is also a fabulous setting. Watching the clouds roll in from the sea and scanning the horizon for lightning was amazing this year. We love the welcome we receive. It’s amazing to come back to ‘family’ year on year.

How does it bring together / unite your group / cross boundaries?

It gives the young people a chance to have all new experiences, which creates a level playing field. We are united because we are encouraged to help each other during activities, this brings us together with a common goal of getting through a hectic week at FACT. We also love every minute we’re on board! The team make the impossible seem possible.

Any particular highlights? Or an encouraging story or change? Or anything else that supports our focus?

We’ve had several young people grow in faith. A highlight is knowing that we have the prayer support and the physical support every year. We are so grateful that this year the team pulled an amazing quiz out of thin air and we were stuck on board all evening and not one moment did it feel like it. Also cake we love cake. We are so pleased to experience the new upper saloon it has made a huge difference to how we use the whole light ship.

Anita Weber – International Staff

I have really enjoyed being at FACT and to still be a part of FACT. So it does continue to make a difference, even now. I have learned a lot about myself but also about serving others. And it’s a lot easier for me to overcome obstacles, because I learned to face my inner fear and to find strength in God. With God everything is possible and it’s so encouraging to see people all over the world praising and experiencing him. FACT is a place for everyone and you can see that God has his eye on it.

David Breuninger – International Staff

Why did you make the journey to FACT to join the team?

After finishing school, I wanted to do something different before going to university and looked for placement in an English speaking country. When I first heard about FACT from a friend, I immediately liked the idea of working and living together with other Christians, being outside a lot and meeting a many new people.

What difference did it make to you? Does it continue to make a difference?

In the year at FACT, I could learn a lot of different skills like sailing, kayaking and powerboating. I also became a lot more aware of my strengths and weaknesses which helped me work well in a team. I got better in speaking English and met a lot of amazing people. Talking with many different people and doing many different things also has helped in getting a better idea of what I wanted to do after the year at FACT.

In what ways did you see people brought together / groups united / boundaries crossed?

At FACT I worked with and got know all kinds of people. From people I could learn and benefit a lot from, to others who I could help benefit; for example, by giving them new experiences. It was nice to see people from all backgrounds, ages or even countries coming and enjoying what FACT has to offer.

Anne Voeltz – International Staff

Moin [mɔːɪn], (That’s how we say hello in the north of Germany.) My name is Anne and I had the possibility to take a Gap Year at Fellowship Afloat. I decided to join the Gap Year team 2018\2019 to have a year serving God and doing something completely different in another country after school and before University. Having the opportunity of working and living with different people, experiencing a lot of different and exciting activities especially sailing, living on a lightship, improving my English language skills and learning more about the English culture, sounded like a pretty good Gap Year.

Directly at the beginning of my year I noticed that I would learn and gain even more than what I thought I would. Over my year I experienced in different situations in a positive way what it means to be a foreigner. I hope that I can give foreign people coming to Germany the same warm welcome, help and respect I got at FACT.

Through all the different Groups Primary schools, Scouts, Youth Groups, Birdwatchers, RYA courses, Adventure Days, Summercamp’s etc. I met a wide range of people with different stories and backgrounds. Beside interesting conversations and input. I could see and feel Gods love for us even more.

Another thing I enjoyed was to live in a community and having a mixed staff team where we had a lot exchange about traditions or speciality goods in our home countries. Living and working together with the same people for a year isn´t always easy but I learned to deal with disagreements. 

My Year at FACT has shown me how important it is to welcome people and to show them that they are loved. Also what it means to fully trust in God and what he does with our life if we let him. 

I experienced FACT as a place where backgrounds aren´t important and where everyone has a chance to feel secure, protected and loved where you can forget just for a weekend about the trouble that might be getting on in your life and to live the moment. 

One of my highlights was to see people changing and seeing forgiveness, love and hope practised. Also seeing different people brought together on RYA courses, Adventure Days, Camps and the new friendships afterwards. Another Highlight have been the volunteers coming to FACT and helping us as staff team serving the groups on board. There I met a wide range of different people sharing the same love for their favourite lightship.

I am happy to be part of the big FACT Family and that I know that FACT will always be a home for me. I’m looking forward to coming back to FACT as a volunteer.

Thank you for such a great Gap Year.

Anne Voeltz

Dotty Salmon – International Staff

I joined the FACT team from 2007-2009, initially for a gap year in the galley. I enjoyed life on board so much that I stuck around for another year as an activity instructor. I was intent to serve God in whatever way I could and I didn’t know what might happen thereafter. My time at FACT has made a massive difference to my faith and grew me as a person – an impact that still lasts. From developing a servant heart, to a willingness to work hard, attention to detail and caring for others … they are but a few lessons and skills I was able to grow in my time at FACT.

What makes FACT unique to me is not only the beautiful setting but also the community it creates. It brings together people from all walks of life, all ages and on different points in their faith journey. Everyone is welcome, and everyone is invited to take a part and join in.  And, no matter how long you stay away, it’s still like home when you return. In times of uncertainty, FACT has often been a place to which I return, either physically or in spirit. Being part of the FACT family allows me to both feel rooted, and also see the bigger picture in life at the same time.