Firstly apologies for the delay in launching the Maiden Blog, but we got there in end. So much has happened since I was first notified that Maiden had been dumped in the Seychelles so let’s bring you all up to date. Thanks to various fundraising drives we were able to put a deposit down on the boat and the Marina which currently owns the boat has been so kind and helpful. If it wasn’t for their care and attention Maiden would have rotted away unloved and alone a long ago time. Now she sits and waits patiently for us to raise the remaining funds to get her home.
Maiden Rescue was initially set up as a company which would own and run the boat. However, so many people to whom I spoke about fundraising told me it should be a charity, that in 2015 we went through the laborious application process of registering as a charity. It is not for the faint-hearted let me tell you! However, as frustrating as it is, the one thing it does is focus the mind on what exactly you are trying to achieve. We were lucky enough to come across the Charity Aid Foundation (CAF) at an early stage and they have been absolutely wonderful. We could not have done this without them.
As most of you know we had decided to use Maiden as an Ambassador for Girls’ Rights, with particular attention to the right of girls to an education. There are currently 65 million girls in the world who are denied such a right. This goal resonates with me as I was expelled from school at the age of 15 and I now realise that I threw away my education. I live in a country that hands me a free education as a right and I was stupid enough to waste it. As I discover more about girls denied an education, I feel thoroughly ashamed of my youthful arrogance. This is my way of making amends.
The problem however, was that because the ‘articles’ of a charity are so narrowly defined, we were told by CAF that we had to choose between the rescue of Maiden or the girls education as the purpose of the charity. It could not be both. I reasoned, and I hope you agree, as do the Trustees, that Maiden can always earn her own money through charters and sponsorship. Therefore it made sense for the vessel Maiden to raise funds for a charity set up to for the facilitation of and lobbying for Girls’ Education. Therefore the Maiden Charity was born (articles on the charity page of the website) and the parameters were clearly defined between boat and girls.
We then decided that rather than re-invent the wheel, we would engage with charities already doing great work in this area. Hence our link with The Girls Network (of which I am Patron); Fields of Life (of which I am an Ambassador) and who run the I Am Girl programme in schools in Africa; UN Women and Just a Drop (of which I am an Ambassador) working in communities to provide clean drinking water which enables girls to go to school instead of carrying water. Maiden will fund-raise for and work with these charities and help in any way she can to get girls into school and to empower young women to be the best they can.
But, first things first, Maiden Rescue (the company) has now received from HMRC, SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme) approval, which means we can sell shares in the company that will own the boat and the shareholders will be eligible for tax relief. We can raise a maximum of £150,000 in this way (if you are interested please contact me through the contact page) which will get Maiden to London in June 2017 in time for her anniversary party! Donations can also still be made and if you are interested in sponsorship, we have some GREAT packages available.
The other great news is that the Maiden documentary is coming along very nicely and is very exciting! The Premiere will be held in Leicester Square in June 2017 whilst Maiden is at Tower Bridge. All parties and events will all be held as previously announced but everything has been pushed back. Once again apologies but it has been not the easiest climate within which to fund-raise and I do have to work as well!
And finally, I will be updating you all every couple of weeks now as we are on a bit of a roll and Maiden should be heading to Cape Town soon. The next event for me is to launch the rewrite of my second book which has been renamed Maiden Over. That will be out on 2nd June 2016 and will be free in order to promote Maiden.
Thank you so much everyone for your support – Maiden I feel extremely lucky and very humbled by your kindness, generosity and overwhelming enthusiasm for two old girls who are bit rusty………………