Horizons is a sailing and boating charity located at Richmond Walk, Devonport.

In the Beginning ...

The project began in 1991 when a yacht called Lazy Lady was offered to provide a taste of the sea for local schoolchildren - such water-based activities being beyond the means of most Devonport children. Horizons has since grown in both reputation and activities, and has attracted funding from a variety of sources, including Children in Need, local businesses, New Deals for Communities and the Devon Foundation. As an independent charity, Horizons can work flexibly with its young people, who are encouraged to make choices and take responsibility. Horizons has never had to advertise and each year local disadvantaged and disabled youngsters, aged 8 to 14, are eager for the season to start.


  • Schools' Educational Activities

    Schools' educational boating programmes are provided Monday to Friday - where children can drive and navigate a boat, plus learn about their historic neighbourhood and marine environment.
  • After School Sailing Club

    An all-ability sailing club, styled on a youth club attitude, is provided. This gives young people a relaxing opportunity to sail and mess around in boats. Club meetings are held on Thursday evening and Saturday mornings for leisure - and Wednesday evenings for local club racing.
  • School Holidays

    Adventure sail training courses are run during school holidays, for Horizons members and for other organisations.
  • Activities for Disabled Children

    Horizons have developed their "Friendship of Plymouth programme" - designed for full wheelchair mobility, allowing disabled children the chance to helm and crew a boat independently.


There are 12 trustees who work according to Christian principles, although the project is open to all. Originally staffed by volunteers, Horizons now has two full-time paid members of staff, a Project Manager and a Lead Coach (who is also the RYA South West Regional National Coach). Several youngsters become volunteers as they grow older, often taking responsibility for Safety Boats. The project is very dependent on its volunteers, all of whom are Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checked by the RYA.


The project ensures that the young people of Plymouth have access to boating excursions, sailing instruction and practical boat operating and building activities in a safe environment. Horizons have developed a rigorous set of guidelines and processes for risk assessment and to ensure safety. There is also a clear Code of Conduct for all young participants. If the code of conduct is broken, suspension from activities is enough of a punishment to persuade young people to change their behaviour. Packs for schools have been produced that offer boating-based activities, these can contribute to areas of the National Curriculum.

Equipment and Training

Horizons now has 26 boats (some of which operate as Safety Boats) and provide 1,500 child sessions each year. Both boys and girls attend, roughly 50/50. The first activities were simply outings on the River Tamar, but the provision has since expanded to encompass Royal Yachting Association (RYA) certification (11 courses), chart work, boat maintenance and boat building, engineering, carpentry, fibre glassing, electrics, understanding of tides and weather as well as improved people skills. The project has worked with a local Pupil Referral Unit to provide a powerboat course for young people on E2E programmes. Young people are helped to gain many qualifications and develop life skills, including teamwork and citizenship.


The Horizons Trust works closely with:
  • Local primary schools: Mountwise, Marlborough Street, Drake, Stuart Road, High Street; Morice Town and Mount Tamar
  • Royal Yachting Association (RYA)
  • Funding has been received from Devonport Regeneration Fund, Lottery New Deal for Communities Fund, the Devon Foundation, Children in Need, SRB, local businesses, the Rotarians.

Project Benefits

  • The small board of trustees bring discipline and objectivity into developing the organisation
  • Health and safety are paramount: there is robust risk assessment, processes for dealing with emergencies, lots of clear rules. (The Horizons project is happy to supply copies of Risk Assessments and other documents to similar organisations)
  • The RYA can provide policies, inspection and risk assessment (for RYA training centres) as well as legal advice
  • Horizons have developed user-friendly ways of getting involved in all aspects of school life, including assemblies and lessons
  • Developed good relationships with all those affected: boat owners, yacht clubs, boat yards, local businesses. The spin-offs for the young people are tremendous
  • Provide the very best boats and equipment that we can. For many young people this is the first time they have felt that something was theirs and not a hand-me-down
  • Encourage parents, but also recognise that for many this is a chance to have a break from their children.


If you want to help Horizons charity, through volunteering, giving your time or a donation, or even some equipment, please telephone 01752 605800 or visit website www.horizonsplymouth.org for more information.