PUPILS from a Bradford secondary school have taken to life on the open waves thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The pupils from St Bede's and St Joseph's Catholic College swapped land-locked Bradford for training sessions on tall ships with several different trips over the past year.

The Heaton school has been working with Maybe Sailing, which provides training on its tall ship Maybe, which dates back to the 1930s. On the boat the young people are provided with sail training and get to experience other skills they need for a life at see, such as cooking in the galley and steering the non-mechanised ship.

As well as the dozens of pupils from St Bede's and St Joseph's that have taken part, younger pupils from feeder school St Cuthbert's.

A £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant, awarded in 2014, has helped make the unique partnership a possibility.

As well as teaching children to sail, Sail Training, which has its head office in Rawdon, helps them discover things about themselves, build confidence and develop teamwork skills. And for most of the children, it is an experience they are unlikely to have had if it had not been for the programme.

Those pupils who were involved have described the experience as "genuinely life changing."

On deck everything is as it was when the ship was first launched in 1933. There are no modern mechanical aids, so group working skills based on effective communication and team work are central to the process.

In April, 12 students and two teachers from St Bede’s joined Tall Ship Maybe for a five day Tall Ship sailing experience. The majority of these students were from deprived backgrounds with a lack of financial support to pay for their voyage, but were able to take part with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund grant. Teachers have said that since their experience they have seen an improved attitude from them in school, and even better results.

The pupils also ended up with a Competent Crew qualification after the training.

In July a further group of pupils joined the ship for a windy and bumpy voyage across the Irish Sea form Liverpool to Belfast. When there, they took part in the parade of sail into Belfast. With tall ships arriving from across the globe, Maybe was dressed, the crew put on their best face paint and bandanas and we paraded down the river into Belfast. The crew won Best Dressed vessel in Class B.

In September, students from St Joseph’s and St Cuthbert’s in Bradford joined Tall Ship Maybe for a three day Explorers adventure in Gosport. After settling in on board the ship, the group spent the day at Portsmouth

Historic Dock Yard visiting HMS Warrior. HMS Victory, and the Mary Rose.

The students were able to navigate, steer the boat, keep the ships log, keep a watch, hoist the sails and help to prepare the meals in the galley.

As well as important life skills, they have also gained knowledge about sailing a traditional sailing vessel and the rich maritime history of the UK.

The success of the programme means that the school and Maybe Sailing plan to continue to provide these and similar experiences for pupils at the schools, and hope further Lottery funding makes this possible.