The Board of Trustees
Vicki Samuels – Chair
Vicki retired from the NHS in 2012 having worked for the previous 18 years project managing a mental health unit in Skye and Lochalsh. During that period she was the founder of Touchwood, the first social firm in the Highlands, and followed this by setting up two other charities, one being the restoration of a Victorian walled garden which helps people with mental health issues to participate in growing organic veg and flowers, and the other, Rag Tag, a unique project providing employment, training and volunteer placements to people recovering from illness, giving them support, providing real jobs, and giving opportunities to regain or increase personal self- worth and creativity. Through good design and by teaching traditional hand skills, “waste” textiles are reused and “upcycled” into completely new and unique fashion garments and home furnishings. Rag Tag is an innovative, award-winning organisation and has been recognised for its work throughout Scotland.
Vicki qualified as a social worker in 1973, working in residential, hospital and generic settings. She has counselling and supervisory skills, is an Adult trainer in ICT and Communications and has good networking and facilitation skills. She holds a Post Grad certificate in Adult Guidance, and a Certificate in Supervision for Counsellors through the Council on Alcohol. She chaired the Skye and Lochalsh Drug and Alcohol forum, the Skye and Lochalsh Social Firm Development Group, Rag Tag and Textile Ltd and the Viewfield Garden Collective, successfully obtaining funding for all of these organisations, and helping to raise their profile with statutory agencies, local government and the Scottish Parliament. Both Touchwood and Rag Tag have been recognised as award winning organisations.
Having lived aboard Britannia for many years, when the family moved ashore, Vicki became self- employed for nine years in the family yacht charter business, Skyes’l Charters with husband, Sam. Her role was mainly administrative, controlling the finances, marketing, PR and customer service.
Michael qualified as a Chartered Civil Engineer in 1974 and since that time his professional career has been mainly as a structural engineer with a special interest in timber structures. He holds degrees from the universities of Liverpool, London and California and has worked with major consultancies including Brian Colquhoun & Partners, Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall & Partners, Ove Arup & Partners, the Environment Agency and NGOs.
Following an academic career with the University of Westminster, in 1989 he bought a 1904 built Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter which he re-built with the assistance of ‘Sam’ Samuels, and which he subsequently operated commercially as skipper for 12 years, mostly sailing in the Hebrides. He is currently a volunteer with the Clydebuilt Association/Friends of the Glenlee based at the Riverside Museum in Glasgow, and is treasurer for the Balfron Award Group in Stirlingshire, responsible for the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
Michael Blundell – Secretary/Treasurer
Born July 1944, Mike spent all of his working life associated with engineering and machine tools. Following a five year engineering apprenticeship with Lucas CAV, in Acton, London, Mike spent a short time in a production environment setting and running a line of automatic lathes.
In 1966, Mike joined George Kingsbury, UK agents for a range of German machine tools. After initial training in the design office and showroom, an intense period of product training was carried out at the factory in Germany. On his return to UK, Mike embarked on 32 years as a field service engineer. This entailed all aspects of machine installation, demonstration and repair, throughout the UK and Ireland.
As the development of the machines progressed, so was the opportunity to train in new engineering skills , from mechanical, through electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, and on to electronic and computerized control.
In 1998, Mike was invited to take on the position of service manager, based at the Gosport works. This role entailed supporting a team of eight field service engineers, providing technical support and problem diagnosis to UK customers. A large part of the role was consulting with five separate German factories on machine developments, documentation, and conducting regular visits to Germany. This close liaison with the German factories bought the added benefit of learning the language, especially “technical German”, Mike continued as manager until taking early retirement in 2007, at the age of 62.
Mike currently keeps fit with cycling, walking, Scottish Dancing and Tai Chi. He is secretary to the Swindon group of CTC (Cyclists Touring Club), organizing and leading their club rides.
Haydn (Sam) Samuels
In 1965 Sam completed a 5 year aircraft engineering apprenticeship, building engines and gearboxes for Westland Helicopters. After a period in the merchant navy, in 1973 he saw Britannia in Lowestoft dock and fell in love with her. For the next 23 years, boatbuilding and sailing became his priority, and he single-handedly restored Britannia from a dismasted hull to a vessel that won the Concourse d’Elegance at Falmouth in 1995. In Bristol, between 1979 and 1984 he completed a rebuild of a 60 foot wooden Baltic Trader, running a team of boat-builders; he managed a successful boatyard on Albion Dockside, quoting for all repair work, including Bristol Pilot Boats and Trinity House vessels; he was Consultant Shipwright on the Pasqual Flores project, a 140 foot three-masted Schooner launched in 1917; he organised a salvage operation between tides, to save the Peggy, a 1908 Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter, after she had run aground outside Bristol Docks.
In 1986 Sam and his family moved to the Isle of Skye where they set up and ran a successful yacht charter business, offering traditional sailing holidays aboard Britannia cruising the West Coast of Scotland, Ireland and latterly to the Canaries.. For 10 years, Skyes’l Charters trained and employed young people to become competent skippers. Sam is a qualified skipper, and holds a private pilots licence.
For a year, Sam led a small team of boat-builders rebuilding the Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter, Alpha after she had been damaged. He has also totally rebuilt and rigged a 40 foot Scottish Fyfie, with son Gareth as an apprentice boat-builder. Consultant to Corpach Shipyard in wooden ship repairs over several years, and supervised major repairs to the 90 foot schooner Spirit of Fairbridge. Sam retired from boat building at the age of 60 and built 4 new houses on Skye in partnership with sons, Haydn and Gareth.
Jane studied law at the LSE and originally qualified as a barrister. Having worked in the City for Slaughter and May she worked as a business affairs lawyer for Sony Music Entertainment for many years.
Fifteen years ago she set up her own business specialising in intellectual property and media law and advises on a wide variety of legal issues mainly relating to digital and online media, e-commerce, music and audio-visual content.
Jane sailed on Britannia for many years until she was sold by the Samuels in 1996 and has subsequently sailed on many classic boats in the UK and around the world.
Born Marlborough New Zealand 1948, has lived in England for last 28 years. John and his wife worked their passage from NZ to Philadelphia USA via the Pacific and Panama Canal on an eighty five thousand to container ship in 1986. He became key accounts sales manager for James Latham plc, timber and building supplies covering the south of England. For the last ten years before retirement he ran his own building business specializing in garden rooms, music rooms, art studios and high end bathroom refits.
John has also 14 yrs. experience in face to face conflict resolution and is a qualified mediator. He gained much experience dealing with link up cases where he mediated between parents and run away children. John has done some offshore yacht racing. He has also done such challenges as the three peaks challenge, the Beachy Head Marathon, a solo coast to coast walk across the mountainous region of Scotland in 2013 and for the last three years has competed in the London to Brighton night ride.
In 2008 he ran the 254km, Marathon De Sable in the Western Sahara involving five and a half marathons back to back, carrying food and survival gear in back packs in temperatures which were consistently between 48 and 50 degrees. He completed this a fortnight before his 60th birthday. John is also an award winning short story writer who runs occasional writing courses. He has written two plays and, as well as short stories, has had poetry published.
Brought up on the west of Scotland Tim developed a sense of adventure, a love for nature and passion for sailing.
At age 19 he worked as 1st Mate on John Ridgeways 57’ Sail Training Ketch English Rose VI and enjoyed the experience of helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds overcome their limiting thinking.
Tim sailed as Mate on a transatlantic yacht delivery then joined the Historic Sailing Vessel Britannia as Cook/Mate. He worked hard, showed a natural ability to sail a large gaff rigged boat and after passing the Yachtmaster qualification was given responsibility of charter skipper at 21. Tim was well liked by all our guests and matured into a very capable sailor dealing with crisis calmly and showing great qualities of leadership.
Tim continued for 5 years working as skipper and mate on Britannia and other historic vessels such as the sailing trawlers Excelsior and Leader and the Bristol Pilot Cutters Alpha and Dolphin. During the winter Tim sailed as Mate on yacht deliveries for the renowned Peter Haward Sea Ferries. At age 26 Tim moved on from sail training and graduated with a BEng (Hons) in Electrical Engineering.
This led to a 23 year career in the offshore Industry working as an ROV Technician, Supervisor and Instructor. In 2011 Tim earned a corporate HSE leadership award from Oceaneering for raising safety concerns to the client and working with all parties to find safe and practical solutions. In Angola he advocated for equal rights for the national workforce and provided coaching to help develop their skills on the personal and professional levels. Tim continued sailing by taking his family and friends on sailing holidays on the west coast of Scotland, Cornwall, Turkey and Greece.
In 2013 Tim began a new career working as an ROV Instructor for Saipem Ltd and developed a passion for experimenting with workshop design to help participants develop team & leadership skills whilst attending operational, technical and safety training. Tim volunteered for STEMNET and helped Dyce Academy pupils at a science club. He also assisted social workers at Aberlour Trust with group activities to help young people overcome trauma, develop resilience and improve their employability skills.
In Feb 2020 Tim moved on from Oil & Gas and his is preparing to return to Sail Training and Yacht Delivery. In his spare time Tim is researching historical methods of navigation and seamanship and investigating ways in which group facilitation can enhance learning from sail training and make it more transferable to the challenge’s crews may face at home and work.
A Graduate of the L.S.E. in Economics and Government, Nick had a varied career in the public sector, starting with a period in Whitehall working mostly on Government policy and Parliamentary Bills. He then moved over to local government, serving as Head of Policy at Westminster City Council.
Following a holiday on Britannia in 1989 he moved with his wife Cindie to the Highlands (from where his mother hailed) to start a family, working in succession as Director of Environmental Services with Ross and Cromarty District Council, Head of Policy with the Highland Council, Chief Executive of the Crofters Commission. He retired in 2013.
As well as his Economics degree he has an honours degree in Chemistry from the Open University. He lives in the North West Highlands. These days he enjoys cycling, sea kayaking, assorted “Massive Online Open Courses”, and catching up on a wide range of reading
Born to a farming family in Suffolk and with a wide ranging but close family spanning England, Scotland, Ireland, North America and Australia. Tom was brought up on his father’s mixed farm, mainly arable, but with a Jersey herd, beef cattle pigs, sheep and a breeding herd of Suffolk Punch Heavy Horses. Childhood was spent on the farm but also sailing out of Pin Mill on the River Orwell, with his grandparents who lived aboard and sailed a beautiful old Gaffer, which is where Tom’s love of sailing began.
After a hesitant start in Fish farming which included some extensive travelling and work experience on fish farms all over the UK and Mississippi in the US, Tom decided to work with his father on the family farm, so after graduating from Shuttleworth Agricultural college, he worked with his father on the arable side, at the same time building up his own herd and sheep flock.
Eventually with a herd of 65 cows and 2000 sheep and very little grass to rely on in East Anglia, Tom carried on his passion for livestock farming and moved to Devon, where he bred Pedigree Angus cattle and Exmoor Horns and mules. Three years later, Tom’s father became terminally ill and after he passed away, Tom lost heart in farming, sold up and went travelling. He was a skilled and talented photographer and became a very well-respected, independent documentary photojournalist, spending 7 years working in conflict zones, graphically covering wars in Africa, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Israel and Gaza. Some of his work hangs in the United Nations building in New York, having worked alongside aid agencies, he was known for his compassion in documenting human rights, and refugees from some of the world’s most disadvantaged people.
Tom met his wife, Francesca whilst working in Uganda, and they worked for a while together covering different situations, eventually moving back to the UK and settling in Devon, where he has been renovating a beautiful thatched cottage, and setting up a contemporary ceramics studio. Tom is very close to, and very proud of his 21 year old daughter currently living in the United States.
4 years ago, Tom started sailing again, rekindling his love of sailing which had been stimulated and encouraged by his grandfather, Felix, when he was young. For the last 3 summers, he has been crewing on a 105 year old Looe Lugger, and is now studying to take his RYA Yachtmaster Skipper qualifications. Tom also owns his own 90 year old wooden yacht which he is restoring in his spare time.
Whilst Britannia is undergoing restoration, he gives as much time as he can to the project, using his practical skills and media experience to design a new website, and will be documenting the restoration journey through regular videos and photographs.
Despite a recent diagnosis of progressive multiple sclerosis, for which he is awaiting an innovative treatment, and the recurrence of a benign brain tumour, he is determined not to let this thwart his ambition to learn to sail Britannia. But mainly he is trying to keep the adventure going!
Born in Cornwall on Britannia in 1978, Gareth spent much of his life on the boat until she was sold when he was 18. He spent the next 2 years studying biology and chemistry at university in Aberdeen.