A programme designed to support veterans by increasing their self-belief, confidence and motivation has benefitted three of our residents living at Speke House.

The residents were part of an 9-person team that has recently completed an 8-day sailing trip around the Orkneys and successfully achieved their competent crew member certificates.

The programme, delivered by CatZero, is designed to give veterans the opportunity to meet new friends and people and support one another in team building and group activities.

Each resident secured funding for the programme from the Army Benevolent Fund and they were required to attend at least two residentials to qualify for the big sail.

As part of the 8-day voyage on the 72-foot challenge yacht, CatZero, they learned how to navigate and gained a lot of information about the yacht, what each area was called and why. They also had lessons on when to sail, weather reading and predictions.

Jan Buckley, Activities Coordinator for Launchpad’s Speke House organised the trip for the residents and said:

“This has been a brilliant trip for our residents – they have gained so much from this and have become better people for it. For me, working with CatZero has been a pleasure. Pete, Fiona and Neil who run the programme are very professional and have made the whole process understandable and straightforward. They tailored the programme for the guys to understand and get used to living in close proximity to each other.”

In addition to the three residents from Speke House, the 9-person crew included three veterans from Hull and three residents from Healthier Heroes CIC, who is partnering with Launchpad as part of the government’s Op FORTITUDE programme which aims to reduce veterans’ homelessness.

Launchpad’s residents were very grateful and upon reflection after the programme, one said:

“When I agreed to sign up to the programme, I had something to focus on and it got me through Christmas, which I find an extremely hard time. I’d give the programme a 10 out of 10 for the way it has been executed and I met people I wouldn’t have in normal walks of life.”

Another resident commented:

“I have gained so much confidence in myself. I’ve now signed up to do a computer course and I’m having a positive attitude towards life in general. I never missed a shift on the sail and I learnt the importance of teamwork and supporting people when they need it. Thanks to CatZero, I’m 100% more confident and sociable and I’d like to thank them for helping me make the change.”

Another Speke House resident said:

“I’ve made friends for life and I’m proud of myself for getting through such a challenging programme.”

Pete Tighe, CatZero Manager, said:

“CatZero’s motto is ‘Delivering Lasting Personal Change’, and I believe this veterans’ programme has delivered that.


“As well as sailing, the group undertook three different residentials in the Yorkshire Wolds, the Peak District, and Northumberland. Activities that took place were caving, hiking, and water sports, as well as cooking and communal living, all of which were designed to prepare individuals for the sailing voyage.


“Sailing from Hull to the Orkneys and back is an arduous challenge, however, the group rose to the challenge and should be really proud of their efforts; we are certainly proud of them!”

Catzero has another veterans’ programme starting in July. If you are an Army or Marine veteran who would like to be considered, please contact [email protected]