And the winner is…

Thank you to all of you who submitted mascot name suggestions via this blog, Facebook or by email. In particular I have loved reading the explanations given for the name suggestions; there were some lovely sentiments. But ultimately, there needs to be an overall winner, as my mascot needs naming. So, the winner is…

Sir Robin Yarnspun (or, Robin Yarnspun for short)!

…But I’d also like to offer a Runner Up prize for El cazador de sueños (Dreamcatcher) as I LOVE the sentiment that sums up my own motivations for being in this edition of the Clipper race, but I fear I could never do the name justice in my pronunciation of it 😉

Ultimately, why I chose Sir Robin Yarnspun over all the other great name suggestions was because it pays homage to two important influences in my life; Sir Robin (obviously) and my mother. Whilst the former is a household name in sailing circles, my mother is also well known (“notorious” some might say), in spinning and weaving circles.

My mum, one of life’s characters and survivors, has struggled her whole life with crushed dreams because of a tragic car accident when my siblings and I were babies and toddlers. Whilst she defied all medical expectations by gradually getting herself out of intensive care, a neck brace and wheelchair, into a swimming pool, onto a bike and most importantly, back behind a car’s steering wheel, it’s all been catching up with her very quickly these last few years and these days she’s almost house-bound and certainly unable to walk very far, increasingly limited by the use of her right side only. She has bravely accepted she has to move into more functional, adaptable accommodation, but it’s emotionally difficult for someone who’s spirited, independent and lived the last 35 years looking at Kinder Scout within a tight community in the Peak District where I grew up and she still lives.

I am painfully aware that as my world is about to broaden exponentially as I slip the lines for horizons new and loose sight of the shore, my mum’s world is very quickly shrinking and she’ll shortly be loosing sight of the moorland she loves so much. Where my ‘move’ is by choice, her move is unwelcome, but borne out of necessity. I feel for her immensely. It is heartbreaking in so many ways that I feel unable to talk much to her about the Clipper race as it feels indulgent in the face of her own enormous day-to-day challenges. She is brave and has way more grit and determination than I ever will.

My husband took this photo at Easter this year when we were supporting mum to try out her newly-purchased walking aid. Little did we know at the time that it would be the last time my mum felt able to walk through the farmyard next door to her house. These days she can barely make it to the bottom of the garden.

My mum is only in her mid 60s, but the legacy of a horrific car accident a lifetime earlier is taking a huge toll. I marvel on her behalf at all my fellow crew aboard the Clipper yachts in their 60s and 70s and hope they acknowledge to themselves that they are so blessed to be physically able to undertake such a remarkable feat. It saddens me greatly that mum will not be coming to race start as she feels unable to deal with the travel logistics and crowds and that she’ll never know what life will be like for me below decks, nor how alien and small the deck of a Clipper 70 feels to a novice sailor like myself.

But despite all this, my mum is an accomplished craftswomen of all things to do with yarn. She is yarnspun at heart. My mascot is yarnspun. I like to think she’d approve of the woolly homage! Over the years she has carded and spun it from fleeces donated by local farmers, dyed it using natural dyes she creates from plants and vegetables, woven it, knitted it, crochet it and championed it with her weekly “stitch and bitch” (as she calls it), which is a gathering of crafty women in her home once-a-week.

This summer I took a road trip back to beloved Scotland with my husband and our tent and we ended up on Iona and Mull. On a gloomy, stormy day we found ourselves at the Ardalanish Isle of Mull Weavers and I was completely blown away by the fact that the woman who runs it knows my mum and spoke so highly of her. She said: “there isn’t a person in the weavers guild who doesn’t know your mother and she has taught me many things.” We both shared anecdotes about mum and spilt many tears over the fact that mum has recently had to sell off all her beloved spinning wheels and looms.

Me with Monika, a New Zealander, who has made a life for herself on the Isle of Mull keeping the spirit and craft of weaving alive at Ardalanish. She credits my mum for her role in her own weaving journey.

So thank you Rosie Turner for coming up with a name for my mascot that keeps the spirit of my mother’s talents alive, whilst also acknowledging a childhood hero whose biographies have inspired my own dreams and led me to play my own small part in this edition of the Clipper round-the-world yacht race. Lastly, but not least, thank you to Tricia Jenkins for her own unflagging support from afar. You shall both receive a lino-cut print in the post (made by another very talented craftswoman I admire) and I hope it’ll arrive auspiciously just in time for the official race start on the 1st September… Here’s to Sir Robin Yarnspun! x