Meet our Team

Declan Cox - Founder & Chief Executive

Declan was born in Irvine, on the west coast of Scotland and entered the care system at a very early age. Prior to entering care he suffered unimaginable abuse and neglect. By the age of three, Declan had been thrown through a pane of glass by his step-father, and had to phone for an ambulance for his alcoholic mother.

Things didn’t get much better after being taken into foster care; Declan was neglected again which led to the foster-carer being de-registered. Following this, Declan was adopted. Sadly this was not plain sailing. Due to the extreme trauma that Declan had experienced, he struggled with his mental health, and by the age of 15 had made several suicide attempts. 

Working through his trauma was a long process and the involvement of social services and CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) simply wasn’t enough for him.

As a young teenager, Declan joined a national youth organisation and was introduced to the escapism and freedom of sailing. Unfortunately, here, Declan was subjected to sexual abuse, but despite this, was not deterred from pursuing his new-found passion for sailing.

Throughout his teenage years, Declan continually tried to get involved with sail training organisations, but the struggle he was facing in dealing with his trauma prevented this from ever coming to fruition. By 16, Declan was moving around homeless hostels in Glasgow after being unable to stay at the adoptive family home.

Fortunately, during his latter teenage years, Declan had a couple of good people in his life who saw his passion and helped him gain self-confidence by taking him out sailing. Then at 18, Declan started to obtain RYA qualifications which was an incredible achievement.

Declan took every opportunity he could to get out on the water and to gain more and more experience. It was sailing that saved Declan’s life. It taught him how to form positive relationships, build up his self-confidence, and essentially grow into the man he is today.

It is Declan’s own story that has made him so determined to help other care-experienced young people who have also had difficult starts in life. Declan feels passionate about providing them with the extra support they need. Unable to find a sail training organisation specifically designed to help care-experienced young individuals, Declan made it his mission to launch one himself, and Sail to Care was born.

Credit: Shaun Roster Photography

Amelia Ralphs - Director of Sailing

 

Amelia leads our on the water activities as Director of Sailing and will skipper Care to Sail's Global Challenge. She is an experienced ocean-going skipper and a live example of how exposure to offshore sailing can change the lives of young people for the better.

 

Amelia first started sailing with the Tall Ships Youth Trust which ignited her passion. Prior to engaging with sail training, Amelia had very low self-confidence and her struggle to communicate effectively was causing friction at home and in her education. Sail training provided Amelia the opportunity to develop personally, reengage with education, and build relationships at home; it also opened her world to a career in the sailing industry, something that she had not previously considered.

 

At the age of 14, Amelia was given the opportunity to sail a Challenge 72 yacht; the experience, the responsibility, and the freedom gave her a confidence and ambition she had not found elsewhere in life.

 

By the time Amelia was 18, she had progressed through the ranks of the Tall Ships Trust, volunteering to crew whenever possible and benefiting from training scholarships and grants. She qualified as one of the UK’s youngest professional skippers and immediately went on to take charge of vessels up to 72ft in size, crossing oceans, running training programmes for young people, racing competitively, and always with the same passion to share the sport which has given her so many opportunities.

 

Working with grand prix race teams, Amelia has also gained an extensive knowledge in engineering, boat building and yacht refit. Her experience in this field includes working on the IMOCA campaign and managing the refit of Tracy Edwards’ yacht ‘Maiden’ prior to its round the world trip in 2018. There is no doubt that Amelia has experience beyond her years, and whether as skipper of a carbon fibre race yacht, managing a crew of young people on their first ocean passage or rebuilding winches, she puts a positive energy into everything she does. 

“Before I was introduced to sail training as a young person, professional sailing was never on my radar. Sailing on a Challenge 72 for the first time was a life-changing opportunity for me that has allowed me the privilege of working with hundreds of young people throughout my career; whether it be hoisting sails, crossing oceans or just cooking on board, the sense of achievement created remains. I have no doubt in my mind that the impact of sail training surely leaves a legacy of engaged, ambitious and compassionate young people that will step forward to lead the next generation.” 

Amelia knows for certain that sail training disrupted her life for the better at a critical moment and believes it has the ability to leave a legacy of engaged, ambitious and compassionate young people who will step forward to lead the next generation.

Credit: Shaun Roster Photography

Team Effort

The operation of Care to Sail relies on the support of many people who provide consultancy and support so that we can deliver the project. Declan and Amelia's skills complement each other perfectly which ensures Care to Sail truly changes the lives of care-experienced young people through sail training. 

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