Skip to main content

Clive Gray

Leader of an ambitious maritime heritage project working to revive a once proud shipbuilding town, with skills training for young people and an adventurous expedition.

Clive Gray is a founder and the CEO of Blyth Tall Ship, an organisation that uses maritime heritage skills training and volunteering to improve employability, life chances and well-being in the North East.

The town of Blyth in Northumberland was once a proud shipbuilding and coal mining community but today is measured in the worst 10 percent of deprived areas in the UK, with high levels of unemployment.

A person (Clive Gray) holding a National Lottery Awards trophy
Clive Gray with his National Lottery Award

The project began in 2009 to revive fortunes of local people while also marking the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica by a ship and sailor from the town, a proud moment in Blyth’s history that had seemingly been forgotten. The target of the scheme, which has received a number of grants from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, is people not in employment, education or training - or as Clive calls them, 'diamonds in the rough'.

He says: “They want things to be different, but don’t know where to start. That’s what this project does – it presents them with the opportunity to have hope and take a crack at it.”

Over the last 12 years, apprentices have learned traditional shipbuilding skills and gained qualifications in maritime engineering, leading to better opportunities for jobs, training and study.

Two people (David Olusoga and Clive Gray) holding a National Lottery Award
Historian David Olusoga honours Clive Gray with National Lottery Award

Blyth Tall Ship isn’t restricted to providing training opportunities however. A key part of its mission, of which Clive was expedition chairman, was to restore a 100-year-old tall ship and train volunteers in seafaring skills, to recreate and pay tribute to the historic voyage in 1819.

He puts the success of the scheme down to a high ratio of trainers to learners, providing valuable one-to-one support, adding:

“The apprentices are building relationships with older men who have a lifetime of engineering experience. It helps them to mature. Just as much happens over coffee as in the workshop. There’s a lot of caring that goes on here.”

Inspired? Apply for funding

Inspired by Clive Gray? Apply for funding to support your own community. Search for funding

Over 685,000 projects funded

The National Lottery has given over £43bn to local projects just like this one to support your local community. Discover more local projects in your community

All projects