LYME Regis has become the new home of a 38ft Bantry Bay gig which represents Great Britain in an international education programme.

A welcoming ceremony was held on Saturday, April 19 as the vessel, Integrite, was rowed to her new home port.

Chairman of Lyme Regis town council Anita Williams, who was on hand to officially welcome the gig in traditional style with a bottle of bubbly, said it was ‘an honour’ that the town could host the vessel.

Integrite was built by the late John Kerr, a boat builder and founder of youth project Atlantic Challenge GB, who was also a regular guest tutor at the Boat Building Academy in Lyme Regis.

Cllr Williams said: “There was a nice feeling of synchronicity about the whole thing because John’s widow came over in the boat from West Bay and handed it over.”

Integrite was passed into the care of Gail McGarva, chair of the Lyme Regis Development’s Trust Atlantic Challenge England committee.

Cllr Williams added: “I know Gail was very pleased to have John’s gig because she met him on a number of occasions. John’s widow said that she very much felt it was going into safe hands.”

The aim of the committee is to give youngsters the chance to learn new skills and gain confidence by learning about boat building, sailing, rowing and seamanship.

The Atlantic Challenge movement is an international educational organisation which aims to bring together youngsters aged 16 to 25 from countries all over the world to promote cultural understanding.

Every two years Integrite and her crew represent Great Britain in an international competition involving all member countries of the programme.

Cllr Williams said: “The town council is delighted that Lyme Regis was chosen to be the home port of Integrite and the development trust has been pivotal in making this come about.

“We do not have a huge amount of facilities for youngsters so it’s so important to make use of the resources we do have, such as the sea.

“It’s great to give youngsters something to work towards, and of course it would be fabulous if one of our own young people was chosen to be part of the crew in the next competition in Denmark in 2016.”

An open meeting will be held at the Hub on Sunday, May 18 for all those who are interested in participating or helping with Atlantic Challenge.


What is a Bantry Bay gig?

A BANTRY Bay gig is a wooden replica of late 18th Century longboats, and based on an original gig left behind in Bantry Bay, Ireland, by an invading French fleet in 1796.

They are propelled by oar and sail with a crew of 13.
The Atlantic Challenge movement aims to have at least half the crew made up of people aged from 16 to 25.