Shy lassie's future now looks brighter

A once shy Cornish school pupil got a dream summer job at a watersports centre after her life was “transformed” by a confidence-boosting sailing adventure.

Sian Van der Wolde, from Portscatho, formerly suffered from lack of self-esteem and would opt to stay in her room playing computer games rather than engage in social or outdoors activities.

But when the 15-year-old returned from a free week-long sailing course run by Cornwall Marine Network – which is designed to build youngsters’ confidence – even her mum was amazed by how much she had blossomed.

Mum Trudi explained Sian was like a changed person after returning from the EU-funded sailing course called Finding the Ropes last October. “It has literally transformed her life,” she said. “Being away living in an entirely different environment and having to work as a team, really brought her out of her shell.”

The teenager has since spent the summer interacting with watersports customers at Roseland Paddle and Sail. She has made new friends and has even been elected as a Roseland Community College prefect for the coming year.

Sian believes the fact she did the sailing course weighed in her favour when she recently applied for work at the watersports centre in Portscatho. Despite being initially nervous about sea-sickness, she said: “The sailing was brilliant and definitely helped me with my work placement. Now I’m getting paid to do watersports, which is great. I really enjoy it and hope to get my instructor’s qualification.”

The Finding the Ropes programme was run by Cornwall Marine Network’s Cornwall Marine Academy department, which creates career progression paths for young people interested in working in the industry. The course undertaken by Sian develops confidence, teamwork, communication and basic sailing and life-saving skills. It was delivered by Falmouth School of Sailing and Trysail in Falmouth, with funding from the European Social Fund’s Freestyle Targeted Youth Support scheme.

Bob Warren, of Roseland Paddle and Sail, said: “The Finding the Ropes course certainly gave Sian added confidence. We were delighted with how well she fitted in and offered her work over the summer. She’s been preparing equipment, helping customers with their gear and doing maintenance jobs for us.”

Mum Trudi added: “I’m so grateful to everyone who helped her do the course. She used to lack motivation and direction and wasn’t realising her potential. But now she’s much more outdoorsy, has widened her social circle of friends and even her school work has improved.”