Community

Tall ship dream comes true for local girl

Christmas has come early for local girl Hana, who is heading on a tall ship adventure thanks to Peterborough Wellbeing Service

Hana’s dreams were in the balance with only days to go when collaboration between her GP, Peterborough Wellbeing Service and private sector company WOW Fitness saved the day!

Hana will not allow Disequilibrium Syndrome or Auditory Neuropathy stand in the way of her enthusiasm to sail on the Lord Nelson Tall Ships voyage around Las Palmas this December. However, with just days to go, Hana was left without an able-bodied ‘buddy’ to accompany her on the adventure.

Hana’s GP, Dr Rhiannon Nally from Wansford Surgery has a big heart for her patients and champions the voluntary and private sector working together. Faced with Hana’s situation, Dr Nally contacted the PCVS Wellbeing Service to see if a buddy could be found.

Jan Cottrell, PCVS Wellbeing Manager said, ‘Dr Nally’s plea to find a buddy in just four days touched our hearts and the Wellbeing Service worked all weekend, sending out 60 emails to trusted contacts to make this happen’.

(top left) Jan Cottrell, (top right) Rhiannon Nally, (bottom left) Sonia Cullington, (bottom right) Hana Smid.

Sonia Cullington, Director of WOW Fitness, was well known to the Wellbeing Service. Sonia has worked extensively with Public Health and the GP Referral Service to support people from all kinds of backgrounds. Sonia and Hana hit it off straight away finding that they live close to each other and were both born in Dundee!

Hana said, ‘I wanted to do something without the support of my family and this voyage will help to build my confidence and self-esteem. There’s so many new things to try on Nelson, and climbing the crow’s nest will be a new challenge and help improve my physical strength and balance’.

Disequilibrium Syndrome is a long-term condition with similarities to Cerebral Palsy and is characterised by progressive neurological symptoms and signs attributable to cerebral edema that occurs due to fluid shifts into the brain. Hana has to cope with visual problems and a key symptom for Hana is deafness caused by Auditory Neuropathy which means hearing aids don’t really help. Hana does have a wonderful four legged friend called Jonah, a black Labrador specially trained by Hearing Dogs – www.hearingdogs.org.uk . Of course Jonah won’t be joining her on the ship!

Dr Nally said, ‘I think this is a shining example of how we can work with the voluntary and private sector to change people’s lives’. The idea of working collaboratively with the NHS and voluntary sector is not new to Peterborough and fits into their 5 year forward plan and is welcomed by Wansford Surgery.

Hana and Sonia sail away on the 13th December for 8 days. The voyage will include working together in a team of 50 people,12 of whom have a disability, on the Lord Nelson Tall Ship, informally known as ‘Nelly’.

The Lord Nelson Tall Ship was two years in the making. Commissioned by the Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST), she would be the ‘flagship’ for the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s mission to enable people with disabilities to sail together with able-bodied people.


JST is an international, United Nations accredited disability charity, promoting integration through the challenge and adventure of tall ship sailing. JST states: ‘We provide life-changing adventures to people of all ages, backgrounds and levels of physical ability. Our voyages change lives by improving self-esteem, building confidence, and providing fantastic leadership and life skills. Those who can’t pull on ropes could ease them off, and those who could do neither could instead call out the ‘two-six’ hauling rhythm’.

The WOW Fitness/Wellbeing programme provides a range of services either 1-1 or in a group setting that commits to increasing people’s self-confidence and self-esteem. The programmes are designed for both in or outside the workplace and inspires people to become more active and set realistic goals based on their physical, mental and social wellbeing to achieve results that last.

PCVS (Peterborough Council for Voluntary Services) is a registered charity set up by local organisations in 1980 as an umbrella and network organisation to the voluntary sector in Peterborough. Peterborough Council for Voluntary Service exists to promote and develop the effectiveness of voluntary action. Charity Number 299823. Company Number 02119687

Peterborough Wellbeing Service is a vibrant local scheme working closely with the local health and social care system, including statutory services and the private sector. Services include:

  • access to voluntary and statutory services
  • befriending
  • carer support
  • health issues and free physical activity sessions
  • home services
  • social activities
  • benefits checks
  • financial advice
  • transport and more ….

Contact: 01733 342683

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