Bridget Keevil may be ‘short, fat, unfit and middle aged’(her own words) but she is also taking on a round the world voyage

Bridget Keevil with Danang Vietnam skipper Wendy Tuck at an Abta Lifeline fund raising event at Haug

Bridget Keevil with Danang Vietnam skipper Wendy Tuck at an Abta Lifeline fund raising event at Haughley Barns. Bridget is to embark on a round-the-world sailing trip on the boat on Monday - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk woman is today embarking on a daunting around the world voyage – travelling approximately 40,000 miles in 11 months – for charity.

Some of the conditions Bridget will be facing

Some of the conditions Bridget will be facing - Credit: Archant

Bridget Keevil, 55, from Elmswell, is taking part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, to raise funds for ABTA Lifeline.

The charity helps those who work or have worked in the travel industry and have fallen on hard times.

It is a cause close to Mrs Keevil’s heart, who has worked in the travel industry as manager and founder of Travel Stop, which has offices in Elmswell, Hadleigh and Claydon, for 25 years.

She said: “The travel industry is the most friendly and loveliest – it’s like one big family.

Bridget Keevil

Bridget Keevil - Credit: Archant

“I’m trying to give a bit back to help people along the way.”

Mrs Keevil leaves for London today, before setting sail from St Katherine’s Dock on Sunday.

Most Read

Twelve identical clippers will be racing around the world for the event’s 10th edition.

“It’s very daunting,” she said. “At the moment I’m apprehensive. I’ve never sailed before and it’s something I’m thinking I’m not very good at.”

Bridget Keevil at an Abta Lifeline fund raising event at Haughley Barns. Bridget is to embark on a r

Bridget Keevil at an Abta Lifeline fund raising event at Haughley Barns. Bridget is to embark on a round-the-world sailing trip on the boat Danang Vietnam on Monday - Credit: Archant

Mrs Keevil has spent weeks training with other crew members and will be one of 20 crew on the Clipper boat the Danang Vietnam – with a living space that Mrs Keevil says is half the space of her kitchen.

She said: “I wasn’t very good in my training, but it’s something I’m going to have to deal with.

“They’ve said it’s 20% sailing and 80% learning to live with other people. Luckily I’m quite easy going and most things go over my head so I’m hoping that will help me around the world.”

The living space has only 14 bunks, and due to shift patterns, crew members will be hot-bunking throughout the journey.

Mrs Keevil said: “I’m a travel agent so I’m used to travelling – just not like this.”

The first leg of the race is expected to end between September 25-30, before starting the second leg on October 7.

In her role as victualler, Mrs Keevil has to make sure everyone is fed between legs – so she may not have days off between legs while she gets stock in to keep her crew nourished.

While taking part in the race, Mrs Keevil will miss her 25th anniversary in her role at Travel Stop. However there is going to be a 25 years and a week celebration when she returns.

Her crew is expected to arrive back at St Katherine’s Docks on July 30.

“I’m looking forward to finishing already,” she said. “It will be completed I hope, barring injury. It’s not for the faint hearted.

“Instead of sailing it’s more like hanging on trying not to get injured. Sailing makes it sound luxurious – it’s not!”

She added: “I’m short, fat, unfit and middle aged – not at all what I imagine is needed for this race. If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.”

And she has been joking with her husband Paul, who will be looking after the company in her absence.

Mrs Keevil said he had told her he had the more difficult tasks ahead of him in the next year.

She said: “The nearer we get to it we have both been saying we’re going to be adapting for the next year.

“I’m very lucky to have a great support group.”

Mrs Keevil has been blogging her progress online.For more information on the race visit www.clipperroundtheworld.com and to donate go to her Just Giving page

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter