INEOS has arguably cornered the market when it comes to offering its graduates the experience of a lifetime on land. So it was only a matter of time before it looked for an equally exciting adventure to show them what they were truly capable of – at sea.

The challenge was the chance to race 16 other vessels from Liverpool to Dublin on board a 125ft tall ship.

The Merseyside Adventure Sailing Trust’s Apprentice Ship Cup is billed as a life-changing adventure, one that strengthens character, fortitude and self-confidence, and with thrill-seeking Jim Ratcliffe at INEOS’ helm, that was always going to appeal.

“The MAST charity’s vision, purpose and values aligned with ours for the development of our graduates,” said Brian Turner, Learning & Development Manager.

To give INOVYN’s graduates a taste of what might be expected, they met the captain of a tall ship berthed at Liverpool Docks.

“We wanted them to see for themselves the vessel that they would be spending the best part of a week on,” said Brian.

When they got back to the office, all were keen to join the ship’s crew.

“Unfortunately, the timing meant some already had commitments that couldn’t be changed,” said Brian. “But three of our graduates signed up.”

For almost a week Rob Raven, 25, Jacob Dossett, 24, and Josh Murray, 24, and the other crew members worked in four-hour shifts round the clock to steady the ship, remain on course and stay motivated.

“We knew the experience would be very different to what they are used to,” said Brian. “We also knew they would be working with a diverse group of young people from different backgrounds with different attitudes.”

For Rob, adapting to working with a team of mixed abilities and motivation was the biggest challenge.

“It was hard but being thrown into such a mixed team helped me to develop team working, networking and leadership skills,” he said.

All three are now back on dry land – and have done themselves and INEOS proud.

They were aboard the Morgenster, a 99-year-old former deep sea vessel, which finished their race – the initial leg of the Tall Ships Regatta – in first place.

Not only that, but at the recent awards ceremony at Liverpool’s Merseyside Maritime Museum, all three shared the award for the best trainee on board.

“Normally there is only one award but the captain and professional crew could not distinguish between them, so they got one each,” said HR director Tony Moorcroft.

But the good news did not end there.

The Merseyside Adventure Sailing Trust weren’t only impressed with the quality of INEOS’ graduates. They rather admired the company’s ethos too – and awarded it the Apprentice Ship Cup.

“That was a big surprise,” said Brian.

The Cup recognises the importance of the role played by the sponsors – and the work they do behind the scenes to support their graduates and promote the event.

INOVYN won it for a combination of the graduates’ attitude together with the professional dealings with Brian and fellow manager Joanne Skyner.

INEOS is gaining quite a reputation among graduates – both inside and outside the company.
Those who join INEOS know that a real job from day one, training and incredible experiences await them.
“It is starting to set us apart from other companies,” said Brian.

In May this year, INEOS once again took a group of 3rd year graduates to Africa where they embarked on a 250km run and cycle through the untouched Namibian desert.

“We love challenges like these because it is an opportunity to take the graduates into a very different environment and test their ability to adapt quickly,” said Brian. “These opportunities also help them to discover what unique qualities they have and show them how they can achieve by working as a team.”

Not only has the experience on board the Morgenster shown INOVYN’s graduates the importance of communication and teamwork, they have also learned a thing or two about sailing and that the best way to a happy crew is to keep everyone fed and watered.


John Chapman is a Terminal Engineering Manager based at Peel Ports Heysham

The Apprentice Ship Cup challenge 2014 saw 17 young apprentices from Peel Ports Group sail from Liverpool to Whitehaven and back again. Looking back, John Chapman one of the group’s mentors, reflects on the trip.

After just over a week back on dry land, it’s fair to say that I am missing my time spent at sea with our fantastic group of apprentices, during this year’s MAST Apprentice Ship Cup Challenge – something which I didn’t think I’d be saying when I signed on six months ago.

The experience from my point of view has been truly amazing and I cannot wait to get on board a ship again. Although at times manning and sailing the ship was hard work that feeling you get when you’re out on the water is very rewarding, especially when you can share this with other like-minded people.

Teamwork was essential during the challenge, without it the apprentices would never have survived. We took two different teams, many of whom had never met before, from different parts of the Peel Ports business and brought them together to work as a crew on-board the Pelican of London tall ship.

Our young trainees more than impressed me over the seven days. They were never afraid to shy away from hard work, put their hands to something new and support their fellow crew mates to ensure our ship sailed as smoothly as possible. What’s more the guys always had a smile on their faces when they were doing so – despite seasickness, tiredness and some very misty weather at points.

They are a credit to our company and I hope that they have taken home some very valuable skills and life lessons with them. It has been a truly transformative experience for many of them and the difference in every single one of them from the beginning of the challenge to now, is clearly visible.

As well as learning something new and exciting, the guys and girls have learned to develop their leadership and communication skills and really push themselves to their limits. It has given them a boost to their confidence and self-belief and also helped formed what will hopefully be lifelong friendships with other young apprentices. I hope that they will take on board what they have learned during the challenge and apply this to their various roles within the organisation.

I never thought at the beginning of the week we would be able to sail this ship, but we did and we are all extremely proud of the achievement, although we are all aware what we have achieved is only the tip of the iceberg.

The journey may be over but the memories and the lessons we have all learned will last a lifetime.