You would think that after 26 years I had covered every inch of the constituency. Not so. Two weeks ago, I went to the open day being held by Hooe Point Sailing club, which is right at the very end of Barton Road, Hooe. What a fabulous location, surrounded by water and looking back onto the City of Plymouth.
There I met some wonderful and friendly people who have been running the club for many years, enabling their members to enjoy the water safely and well. The open day was to attract more people, especially younger people, to consider the delights of sailing.
We live at a time of great opportunity. Young people have never had more choice in engaging in healthy outdoor activities: sailing, cycling, athletics, equestrianism, scouting and guiding, cadets – the sky’s the limit.
It is important that we maximise the opportunity for young people to engage in sport, because, increasingly, their default position is to retreat to their rooms and disappear into the virtual world provided by the internet and fantastic video games.
If I was a teenager again I would almost certainly become addicted to the games I am sometimes allowed to play with my grandchildren. The graphics are astonishing and the sense of tension created by the best games is compelling. Who wouldn’t enjoy blasting other people to pieces!
The games compare very favourably with the plastic soldiers I used to line up and then knock down with a matchstick fired from a toy tank. However, my brothers and I spent most of our time outside, trying to inflict physical pain on each other with bows and arrows and make-do swords. We mainly ran around in the fresh air whatever the weather.
How healthy will the current generation be when they are older? Given the concerns about obesity and the impact on health it is vital we now promote healthy outdoor activities. I therefore salute all of you adults who give up your precious time to enable youngsters to enjoy the great outdoors. All of you who coach or drive or supervise or administrate or fund-raise so that a bunch of 14 year olds can run around in the mud each weekend passing a leather ball backwards and jumping on each other – a huge thank you.
Back to where I started. If you and yours are interested in sailing, I am sure the Hooe Point Sailing Club would love to hear from you.