Set sail for a brighter future with Cornish charity

Date: Friday June 21, 2019 at 1:30pm

On Cornwall’s south coast, a charity that takes Armed Forces personnel affected by military service out on the open water is helping participants to benefit from the calming effects of sailing and the sea.

Turn to Starboard is the brainchild of Shaun Pascoe, a former RAF Squadron Leader who commanded emergency medical evacuations around the globe during his 16 years in the RAF. He served on operational tours in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan, leading small groups of highly trained medics out to rescue and treat medical emergencies.

On leaving the RAF, Shaun set up a charity in 2012 to help military veterans suffering with physical injuries or mental trauma by providing sailing courses and family sailing trips in a unique and supportive environment. To date, the charity has provided more than 2,500 sailing opportunities to injured veterans and helped many to re-integrate into civilian life.

“There is something really quite special about sailing,” says Shaun. “It can provide a therapeutic and calming effect and when you’re out at sea there is nothing to trigger the unwelcome memories that are associated with past traumatic experiences.”


Based at Falmouth Marina in Cornwall, Turn to Starboard runs several different programmes from Royal Yachting Association-accredited courses for beginners to week-long family trips, tall ship sailing, competitive racing, as well as an extensive Zero to Hero Yachtmaster development programme, which gives participants the necessary qualifications to begin a career in sailing.

Drastic transformations are not uncommon at Turn to Starboard. “We had one guy who had been locked inside his house for years. We picked him up and took him sailing. Since then, he’s really engaged with life and sails every day with his local club,” says Shaun.

It’s testament to Shaun’s determination that several of the major veterans’ charities are now on board, including the Royal Air Force Association, Help for Heroes and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity. The charity is also supported by The Endeavour Fund, part of The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

“Leaving the military, particularly on medical discharge, can see some individuals face significant challenges,” explains Shaun. “We try to help veterans regain that sense of value and the belonging they were once so proud of.”

To find out more or to make a donation, call 01326 314262 or visit

Case study

When former soldier Johnny Slater stepped on an explosive device while on tour in Afghanistan, he suffered multiple fractures to both his legs.  

As well as living with the physical effects of the blast, he suffered from mental trauma - a hidden wound which impacted his recovery process. 

It was during a lengthy rehabilitation programme that Johnny heard about Turn to Starboard and a chance to enjoy the calming effects of sailing and the sea.   

After enjoying his time on the trip, Johnny was encouraged to continue his sailing on the charity’s Zero to Hero course and later qualified as an RYA Yachtmaster. 

"Sailing has had a massive positive impact on my recovery and made me useful again," he explains. “Being out on the water opened up a whole new perspective on life and helped me focus on what I can achieve rather than on what I can’t. Thanks to support from Turn to Starboard, I now hold a professional sailing qualification and can look forward to finding a new career in the marine industry."


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