CHILDREN from Castle Cove Sailing Club in Weymouth are celebrating with their coach Emma Bishop after being donated two brand new training Optimist dinghies.

Last year, with some assistance from her brother James, Castle Cove member Bishop, 17, started an Optimist flotilla at the club and regularly coaches the younger sailors.

Bishop said: “I started sailing 10 years ago in an Optimist dinghy at Castle Cove and was coached by some of the teenagers there.

“I loved the independence that sailing gave me and it definitely helped to build my confidence. As I got older, I thought it would be great to help some of our younger members get into the sport and was amazed when 19 signed up for last year’s training.”

After a very successful first year, Bishop decided to contact the John Merricks Sailing Trust to ask if they would be interested in assisting the club in any way to benefit the optimist flotilla.

The trust is a charity set up in memory of John Merricks, who was a sailor himself.

He competed at the Olympic Games in 1996, sailing in the 470 class with his crew, Ian Walker.

In 1997, Merricks was tragically killed in a motor accident. The trust was set up in memory of John and its aims are ‘to advance the education and physical and mental development of young people in need, in the United Kingdom, with a view to promoting the achievement of their potential through the sport of sailing’.

After making an application, Bishop was pleased to get a reply from Ian Walker.

Walker said: “The trustees were very impressed with your efforts and are keen to support this scheme for next year.”

The trust awarded Castle Cove a grant that paid for these two new Optimist dinghies, which have been named Stroppi Two and Choppi.

Bishop said: “The first boat that I owned was a blue optimist named Stroppi and I have never forgotten it. I hope the children at Castle Cove have fun in these new boats and enjoy sailing as much as I do.”