Investing In People

FACT seeks to provide an environment that encourages people to discover more of who they are and to grow into more of who God created them to be.

We asked some of our former staff to share why the chose FACT as a place to work – sometimes for a year, sometimes for longer – and what they gained from the experience. Here’s what they said…

image shows a word cloud which highlights the key words former staff used to describe their time at FACT. The words are different sizes depending on how frequently they came up. Some of the bigger words include: life, faith, god, people, sailing, grow, family, confidence, skills, community.

Sam Berglund

Trainee Instructor (2012-13); Assistant Lead Instructor (2013-2015)

Just three words: Empowering. Family. Cake.

My experience with FACT helped me to hone in on my passion for connecting people to the wild places that surround us, a passion I still use today working as the Interpretive Specialist for a 4 million acre forest. My job is based around how we connect to wild places and how we as an agency can continue to offer opportunities and engage the public in protecting these places. What I learned about my own capability and the capability of those around me from my years at FACT helped me grow into the advocate I am today.

I chose to stay for longer than my original placement because of the staff family I had become a part of, the visitors I got to work with, the memories and experiences out on the water I will never forget and the cake, obviously.

So many of the incredible things that happen daily at FACT are a result of a solid faith in knowing that God has you and has this place in his hands. Working in that kind of environment has only strengthened my faith in letting go of all the things I can’t control.

I think about my time at FACT often and fondly. There were so many great experiences throughout my time there, but probably what I think about the most is the family I found there. The leadership, local community and fellow staff truly offered me a home away from home in a way that’s unique to the FACT organisation. The nights spent laughing uncontrollably, holding space for each other when things got hard, and pushing each other to be what we didn’t know we could be truly is the secret sauce of what makes this place home to so many.

Laura Cook

Trainee Instructor, 2008-09

Just three words: Memorable. Life changing.

I had always known that after my degree I wanted to do a PGCE. My time at FACT cemented my knowledge that I wanted to teach and I decided to apply for a teacher training degree.

FACT taught me how to live as part of a community, to serve others and how to work as a team. Teaching sailing pushed me out of my comfort zone and although I wasn’t the best sailor, I always remember Andrew saying to me that although I wasn’t the best or more confident sailor, I was able to teach it well and so had chosen the right path for my future.

It gave me skills to work with such a diverse range of children which has served me well and made me decide to always serve underprivileged communities. It’s made me work hard. A year at FACT is tiring but the rewards for dedicating your time pay off and FACT really showed me that. It showed me that community really impacts people and their ability to achieve.

Katie Lewis

Trainee Instructor, 2011-12

Just three words: Active. Growing. Serving.

I learnt so much and was shaped in so many ways! It was really foundational in teaching me to work hard in serving others, working full days and learning to take initiative – my parents were delighted when I came home for Christmas and got on with the washing up without being asked! I learned through experience and in community with others that even cleaning toilets (or worse, showers), can be done cheerfully to serve Jesus and other people.

Living in close community taught me about relating to others in our similarities and differences.

I grew in confidence in relating to different people and how to lead different activities with them, whether formally like sailing or informally, like cleaning up together. I think it has also shaped me in how I lead, teach and communicate.

I came back a couple of months later after my year finished. I had felt so lonely and unknown surrounded by so many new people at university and coming back to FACT and feeling immediately known and loved was very wonderful indeed. I think being known and loved by the FACT community has helped me better understand church and God’s people more broadly.

Chris Cotterill

Trainee Instructor, 2008-10; Assistant Lead Instructor, 2012-13

Just three words: Intensive. Worthwhile. Fun

I first did a gap year because I didn’t know what else to do and then because I enjoyed it – it was fun. It gave me experience, qualifications and a purpose. Long term it’s helped me grow as a person, given me skills which I used in my career and serving other Christian camps. It’s also given me a lifelong community to be part of.

I appreciated being given responsibility – it’s empowering to be trusted to deliver an activity session or take the boats out to the moorings. It tested my faith which helped to strengthen and confirm my belief in God and the importance of Jesus in my everyday life. I would wholeheartedly recommend a year at FACT – it will stretch and grow you and also be a lot of fun!

Jack Williams

Trainee Instructor, 2009-10

Just three words: Enjoy every day

FACT provided an environment for me to begin the journey of understanding myself and my place in the world. It gave opportunities to see different walks of life, those from fortunate and less fortunate backgrounds. It gave me a sense of belonging, understanding how to form and be part of a high performing team, as well as development for leadership.

It tested me constantly, strengthening my resolve and patience for greater challenges in the future.

Ultimately it gave me my first steps into understanding how big my potential can be with the purpose, energy and determination found there.

I gained confidence and a sense of pride as a young man.

This is a freebie year for young adults to develop and test themselves – enjoy every moment of it and make memories with lifelong friends.

Becky Clarke

Trainee Instructor, 2006-07; Lead Instructor, 2010-2012

Just three words: Best choice ever

This week I have wished a friend ‘happy birthday’, cleaned a toilet, led a bible study, baked a cake, chatted to mums at a tots’ group, and prayed with my kids (as well as getting them to load/unload the dishwasher). What do all these things have in common? Fellowship Afloat.

I did a gap year in 2006/7, straight from school and before going to university. That friend whose birthday it was this week, I shared a cabin with that year, 3 years after that we sailed around Britain together to raise money for the FACT bursary fund, 2 years later she was my bridesmaid, and 18 years after we first met (while packing Lightwaves envelopes on our gap year interview day) we’re still good friends!

Some of the skills I learned on my gap year I use regularly – how to clean toilets and showers, how to coax children (I have 5) to do jobs like washing up, cleaning tables and putting on waterproofs and wellies! And baking Congo bar, mocha cake and all the other favourites from the FACT recipe book.

There’s some more serious things I learned from my time at FACT too: I learned how to lead a Bible study, how to share testimony of God’s goodness, how to confidently pray aloud to encourage others and how to bring the big and little things in life to God. I also learned how to talk to people of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life (which is very useful in the school playground!)

I first knew that the lightship was a special place for me when I visited with my church youth group in 2001. We sang ‘how great thou art’ looking out over the marsh and the truth of ‘and when I think, that God his son not sparing, sent him to die, I scarce can take it in, that on the cross my burden gladly bearing, he bled and died to take away my sin’ sank into my heart. More than 20 years later (I know – I can’t believe I’m that old either!) I still sing that song as I walk down the path!

Since my gap year I have completed my degree, returned to FACT as staff for a stint, got married, worked as an outdoor instructor at other places, become a Coastguard, and had a family of my own. Only God knows what the future holds, but I’m certain He used my year at FACT to teach me about myself and about Him.

Molly Lawrence

Assistant Chef, 2012-14

Just three words: Faith. Family. Relationships.

There was a lot of pressure at school to go to university and I was unsure of what to do. Doing a year at Fellowship Afloat allowed me to explore all my options, gain more experience and confidence in the culinary sector and build a relationship with God. I had just come to faith; I knew doing a year at FACT would allow my faith to grow in a safe and encouraging environment.

I got a whole community of people who I consider family! This family accepted me for me without any judgment and allowed me to explore my relationship with God at my pace.

I definitely grew in confidence throughout my year; I was able to speak up for myself and get my ideas/opinions out there more. I went into my culinary course with an abundance of knowledge and experience. With a large support network, weekly Bible studies over winter, morning thoughts and regular church services I was able to connect with God on a deeper level and grow into the Christian I am today.

I now have 10 years of catering experience under my belt and that foundation was built at FACT.

Josh Richardson

Trainee Instructor, 2000-01

Just three words: Dreamy tilted living.

I chose FACT for the sailing experience, to build qualifications, experience new things and live away from home. I gained all of that and more! It was a mega year building on confidence and ability with a lot of getting wet! A great bunch of lifelong mates made.

Professionally it was huge! It empowered me to do a relevant degree, then be Chief Instructor in a training school for 5 years, sail around the world, manage superyachts, then set up 4 businesses in the Superyacht market which are still going strong – it was game changing for me.

There’s lots of support, great opportunities for training and mentoring, huge opportunity for outdoor activity, an environment to bring out the best in people, highly recommended!

Harry Darrah

Trainee Instructor, 2010-11

Just three words: Impactful. Love. Excitement

I feel a lot more confident in making my own decisions and sticking with them due to the great encouragement and mentorship I received during my year. The staff at FACT encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone and believe I can achieve my potential and this has given me more confidence to try things I might not think I could do before my year.

I was taught how to be an instructor and teacher to others. This has really helped me to know how I should talk to those I am teaching in my current job.

My year has helped me to try and look at life through how Jesus looks at every one of us and that’s with a smile and a heart of love. Times ahead are going to be difficult but I feel a lot more confident in facing them thanks to my year at FACT where I met Jesus who will guide me through life’s challenges. We would offer each day to God through prayer and see many of those prayers answered. It has encouraged me to try and continue this routine as starting my day talking to God helps me to know I’ve got him by my side to help me out.

FACT is a place where every individual will be accepted and included. You are given so many opportunities to find your strengths / gifts and then supported by loving people to reach your potential at a pace that suits you. In turn you feel fulfilled, loved (by God) and confident to face whatever your next chapter in life is, well equipped to do your best. It really is a great place to go if you’re just not sure what to do after you’ve left school because a year at FACT will inspire you in ways you never imagined possible.

Noj Farnell

Chief Instructor, 2005-08

Just three words: God’s Love Personified

I love adventure and making the most of the places you’re in, and I think FACT does this and does a lot of it through an awesome Christian community, one that is hard to replicate. It wasn’t always easy but challenges are much more satisfying when you overcome them. It developed me so that I could be more welcoming of complexity and accepting of others as initially I found it hard that life doesn’t always go your own way.

I gained a resilience, confidence and deeper knowledge of myself and faith. A robust technical and sailing / boating experience that led to further fun, adventure and career opportunities. It was also a wonderfully supportive place to start married life in. I also made deep and lasting friendships and gained godparents to my children; and a clear model of how Christian community and life can be and how that interacts with local communities.