Giving more Island children the opportunity to develop their potential & sense of adventure through water-based activities

UKSA is able to offer a unique opportunity to children on the Isle of Wight who participated in our year 6 Test the Water Programme this year, thanks to the friends and family of Polly Birch.

A group of young students having fun with dinghy sailing at UKSA

Who is the Polly’s Fund for?

Polly’s Challenge has been set up to offer a special opportunity to Isle of Wight children to take part in a five-day sailing or watersports course during their summer holidays, for just £20, enabling them to have fun, be adventurous and learn new skills through participation in outdoor activities.

Up to 36 children aged 10-11 are taking part in a five-day course this summer. Participants were able to choose from a multi-activity week including sailing, kayaking and paddle-boarding, or work to achieve their RYA Stage 1 & 2 Dinghy Start Course.

Young students having fun on the water on board a yacht

Polly Birch – a love of adventure and a passion to encourage others

It is thanks to the friends and family of Polly Birch that UKSA is in a position to do this. Polly was a much loved vet, sailor, mum, wife, sister, daughter and friend. Above all Polly loved adventure and wanted to encourage other people to go out and experience the world. This fund has been set up in her memory.

“Respect the world and look after the bees.  Appreciate the people around you, adventure with them, buy less stuff and go out to experience the world.  Laugh, dance and have fun.” Polly Birch.

Polly’s family have offered these places to Island youngsters who are eager to learn more at UKSA and might not normally have the opportunity, giving them the chance to develop their skills and potential passion for sailing and watersports.  All children who took part in the Test the Water programme in the 2017-2018 academic year were encouraged to apply.

A group of young learners experiencing Keelboating at UKSA

What did the first group of 12 young people do?

Our first group did a 5-day multi-activity programme on the 25th-28th July 2018, taking part in a whole range of activities including:

  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Dinghy sailing
  • Keelboating, and even a sailing regatta.

Their week culminated in a celebration event on Saturday attended by the children’s families along with the parents of Polly Birch in whose name Polly’s Challenge was set-up.

When are the next courses?

Two more groups of twelve will join us over the next month to participate in Polly’s Challenge:

  • 13th-17th August (FULL)
  • 20th-24th August (FULL)

One group will complete a Dinghy Start course, where they will work towards their RYA Level 1 & 2 Dinghy qualifications, and the other participate in a multi-activity week where they will try a host of different adventurous activities.

How can my children take part in the future?

In order to sign up to the course, each child was asked to raise £20 towards the cost through partaking in sponsored activities; on the July course, the children’s sponsored activities ranged from participating in a squat challenge to making a quiche! All money raised by the children will go back into the Polly’s Challenge fund to support more youngsters to take part in the programme in future years.

All the places are now full, with a waiting list in place. But, if your child takes part in Test the Water during the next academic year (September 2018-June 2019) their school will be approached with this opportunity.

How can you make a donation?

If you are interested in making a donation to Polly’s Fund, please visit

If you would like to set up a programme in memory of a loved one, please contact Jade, Rosie or Jodie in our fundraising team on [email protected]