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Sail-Ebratoins All Around – Cambridge Care Home Resident Takes The Helm

A Cambridge care home resident was delighted when his wish to take a cruise down memory lane was made a reality.

64-year-old Neil Kirk was an avid sailor in his younger years, which is why when the team at Care UK’s Heathlands House on Bullen Close, learned that he was keen to get behind the helm once again, they were determined to make his wish come true.

A keen traveller, when Neil was younger he spent many years sailing boats, buying his first yacht in Cape Verde and making the Transatlantic Crossing to Barbados, before continuing upwards to New York.

As well as being a seasoned sailor, Neil was also a qualified pilot and spent many years living in the United States in Arizona, flying hot air balloons.

The team organised for Neil to take a trip down the River Cam, going from Fen Ditton to Cambridge centre with the help of Cam Boats. Neil had the opportunity to take the helm and have a go at steering, showing off his sailing skills and was able to catch a glimpse of the Trinity College rowing team out for a practice.

Commenting on the experience, Neil said: “I was delighted to go on a boat again. When I was younger, I sailed the Atlantic with a group of friends It was a wonderful experience even though we kept getting lost – the trip took us 31 days!

“The trip was just grand and I’m incredibly grateful to the team for organising it.”

The visit was part of the home’s Wishing Tree Initiative, which encourages residents to put wishes forward, allowing them to reconnect with a past hobby or try something completely new – from flying a plane to enjoying a fish and chip supper, no wish is too big or small.

Razvan Stanbeca, Home Manager at Heathlands House, added: “When Neil shared his wish was to go on a boat again, the team were thrilled to make it happen.

“Our Wishing Tree initiative is a wonderful way for residents to share their ambitions and it’s hugely rewarding to be able to make these a reality. Neil is incredibly passionate about sailing – he often salutes his fellow residents and the team as we walk by and likes to be referred to as ‘Captain Kirk’ which is especially fitting as he once worked on a boat called The Enterprise.

“I’d like to extend a big thank you to the team here at Heathlands House, as well as everyone at Cam Boats who helped make Neil’s wish a reality – he’s already talking about going back!”