Poignant trip for community champion Helen Newlove launches training boat for Great Yarmouth cadets
CROWDS gathered to watch as a new training boat for disadvantaged youngsters made a poignant voyage through Great Yarmouth - after being officially launched by an inspiring community campaigner.
Helen Newlove was thrown into the national spotlight in 2007 after her husband Garry was kicked to death by a trio of teenagers outside his Cheshire home.
Since then she has been working as a community safety champion, helped launch initiatives to tackle antisocial behaviour and been given a peerage and sits in the House of Lords.
Through her Community Alcohol Partnership Baroness Newlove donated �10,000 towards the cost of a training boat to be used by young members of TS Warrior, the cadet unit in Cobholm, Great Yarmouth.
And today (Friday) she officially launched the six metre rib - the Newlove - and took a touching ride with other invited guests down the River Yare and under the Haven Bridge, to the delight of the cadets who watched and waved from their waterside base in Steam Mill Lane.
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The boat will now be used to give older members of the Warrior training and qualifications, which they can then use to get jobs in offshore industries that are booming in Yarmouth.
Speaking before she doused the boat with a bottle of fizzy grape juice, Baroness Newlove said: 'I'm a bit lost for words because next week is the fifth year of Garry's death and I'm struggling as it is. But I'm very proud for you to invite me here and I'm very humbled to be here with you.'
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The mum visited the cadets in April to present them with their cheque and said it was 'refreshing' to meet a group of young people who spoke for themselves and were full of 'vibrancy' and 'proud of themselves'.
She added: 'I do believe in the Great British backbone and you kids have so much to offer and don't let anybody tell you you can't. You have got the capability of going to the top.'
The launch of the Newlove was also a special moment for Warrior staff including chairman Duncan Boyne, who has worked for two years to help secure the cash needed to buy the boat. Other donations came from the police, Norfolk County and Great Yarmouth Borough Council.
Older members of the unit, which runs on three nights a week with children aged eight to 18, will be going out on the Newlove with two Royal Yachting Association instructors to gain qualifications in seamanship that is hoped will lead to employment.
Duncan said: 'Most of these kids come from deprived homes, we're just trying to make them have a bit of a better future life. Hopefully by the end of the year we'll have 10 to 12 kids qualified.'
He added: 'The children who have been out on the boat love it, it's a new experience for all of them. It's been two years of hard work and stress but seeing the kids' in the boat and when they come back and say 'that meant everything to me' - that's the only reason we're here.'