Organisers are calling for volunteers to help make the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta Blyth 2016 a ship-shape success.
Up to 500,000 visitors are expected to visit the Regatta and volunteers will be an essential part of what will be one of the biggest events ever held in Northumberland.
The Regatta takes place at Blyth during the August Bank Holiday weekend (August 26 to August 29) when more than 30 Tall Ships are expected to gather at the port.
Volunteers can get involved in two main roles as a ships liaison officer (SLO) or a town host, and organisers are looking to recruit more than 150 volunteers.
Town hosts are land-based and will work alongside Active Northumberland’s tourism staff providing visitors with information and guidance to help them enjoy the event and their visit to the county.
The ship-based SLOs will be working with the ships and their crews, providing essential communications between them and the event and race organisers.
They will also be responsible for encouraging crews and trainees to participate in the shore-based activities throughout the weekend.
Northumberland County Council, in partnership with the Port of Blyth and Sail Training International, is hosting the prestigious Regatta. Fergusons of Blyth has been confirmed as the principal sponsor for the event in celebration of their 90th anniversary.
Coun Val Tyler, cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture at the county council, said: “Becoming involved in volunteering is a great way to learn new skills and meet new people and being a volunteer will put you at the heart of this event.
“We are looking for friendly, reliable people with great customer service skills who will be proud to showcase the county and its attractions.
“Our volunteers will play a crucial role helping captains, crews, and visitors to have a great experience during the Regatta and a wonderful stay in Northumberland.”
Volunteers must be available to work all four days of the event, at various times, and be able to attend a half-day induction course.
They will also be encouraged to attend a two-day training course in volunteering. An additional two-day training course is required for the town host role.
Des O’Meara, president of the North East Old Gaffers Association, and his wife Anthea Connor, from Widdrington Village, were volunteers at the Newcastle Tall Ships Race in 2005.
Des said: “Being a volunteer was an amazing and unforgettable experience, and I would really encourage people to get involved in the Blyth event as it is a fantastic opportunity.
“You are right at the centre of everything, helping visitors and crews, and you get to meet so many interesting people – the camaraderie is fantastic.
“The atmosphere at a Tall Ships event is electric and it makes your body tingle all over when you see these beautiful vessels up close and in the Parade of Sail.”
Free accommodation and use of the park and ride system will be available for volunteers and they will have a chance to take part in the event activities throughout the weekend.
Martin Lawlor, chief executive, Port of Blyth, said: “The Regatta is taking place over a large area of the port and town with events spread across the site and we are expecting over 30 ships in port.
“Volunteers will play a very important role in helping to welcome, advise and direct people to events, ships and places of interest and helping to keep the festival ship-shape, as well as showing the best of Northumberland.”
There are also a number of Technical Liaison Officer posts for those who have specialist maritime skills or experience. These will work out of the ‘Blyth Tall Ship’ workshop and are a resource for the ships to draw upon if required, for example, to help with repairs.
Entry to the Tall Ships Regatta is free and the event attractions will include five themed zones of entertainment from Blyth beach to the town centre.
For further information on Sail Training International, visit www.sailtraininginternational.org