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 Humphries – Treasurer
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
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.
Tim began his career as an electrical engineering apprentice, but after what turned out to be a very fortunate redundancy, he started work as an outdoor Instructor at the John Ridgeway Adventure School.
The following year he joined the historic sailing vessel Britannia as first mate and at 21 was given the responsibility of captain. Tim continued to work in charter and sail training for a further 5 years and gained the Yachtmaster Ocean Qualification.
With a young family, he returned to full time education and achieved a B.Eng. degree specialising in robotic control. At 30, Tim changed tack and became a trainee ROV Technician in the offshore Oil & Gas Industry and five years later was promoted to Supervisor.
This work included several years in West Africa where Tim became increasingly interested in developing leadership and technical skills within the national workforce. This led to more inclusive and mutually respectful relationships between expatriates and the national crews.
With this experience behind him Tim started his third career as an ROV Instructor for Saipem Ltd. This role has allowed him to combine his interest in leadership development and education. He is currently creating an in-house learning facility for the off shore technicians. In his spare time Tim is training to become a facilitator and a leadership development coach and is a volunteer trustee of the Britannia Sailing Trust.
Tim has rebuilt two 1960’s plywood sailing yachts and continues to take his family on as many offshore sailing holidays as his wife will allow!
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