Challenging Disability Through Outdoor Adventure

Northumberland couple experience trip of a lifetime

Keith Newman in the Drivers Seat

A Northumberland couple with a passion for ships and the sea have just returned from the experience of a lifetime, spending time at sea as guests of the Royal Navy.

Keith and Lesley Newman from Ulgham near Morpeth successfully outbid their rivals in the Grand Auction at The Calvert Ball in aid of Calvert Trust Kielder to spend four days at sea with the Trusts’ affiliated warship HMS Northumberland on passage from the Tyne to Plymouth.

HMS Northumberland, a Type 23 frigate, was built at Swan Hunters in 1992 and entered service in 1994. More than 450 feet in length and weighing almost 5,000 tonnes she is capable of powering through the water at 28 knots. Armed with the latest weaponry and technology, she is able to carry out her anti submarine role in times of tension. With the addition of a state of the art Merlin helicopter and powerful jet propelled sea boats, HMS Northumberland is more than capable of dealing with any situation that she may come across.

HMS Northumberland

While on board, the lucky couple were able to experience for themselves what life is like for the crew of the 185 men and women who have recently returned from deployment in Somalia protecting shipping from notorious pirates. As well as spending time on the bridge, they visited the engineering department, the operations centre and attended practical demonstrations in fire fighting, weaponry and small boat handling

The highlight of Keith’s stay on board was being able to drive the ship’s sea boat, a jet propelled Pacific 24 capable of speeds up to 39 knots, while Lesley’s choice slowed down the pace somewhat with her helping to cook curry in the ship’s galley for the entire crew.

Chef Lesley

”You really can’t appreciate how much work goes on behind the scenes to keep the crew well fed and therefore motivated until you try it yourself,” she said. “The galley team work tirelessly in all weather conditions to make sure the crew have good food throughout the day. It was great to feel part of the team.”

Indeed, the sense of belonging to a closely knit, professional team was what appealed most to Keith.
“I had lots of time to talk to crew members at all levels about their experiences and life at sea,” said Keith. “What struck me was the bond holding everyone together onboard coupled with a great sense of pride in their ship. It was like being part of a big family. We already had a huge respect for the work the Royal Navy does at home and abroad but our special time with them has really reinforced our sense of gratitude to all of our servicemen and women.”

Life at sea is a far cry from Lesley’s normal job as an antiques trader but Keith does have nautical connections with his job as a director of his own firm, Highlights Public Relations. “I’m the national public relations officer for The Maritime Volunteer Service, a nautical charity and I also look after The Clean Tyne Project but this experience was just out of this world. Commander Paddy Allen and his team really made sure we left with fantastic memories of the Royal Navy and we can’t thank them enough.”

Keith Newman, Highlights PR

Keith has been supporting Calvert Trust Kielder by providing help with public relations for this year Calvert Ball, which is taking place on Friday 2nd September at Hilton Newcastle Gateshead.  HMS Northumberland have kindly agreed to offer this once in a life time expereince as an Auction Prize.

For further information on buying tickets for The Calvert Ball please contact Hazel Munro on 01434 250232.

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