A BURGATE School pupil has scooped one of just six coveted places aboard a sail training ship after “enchanting” judges with his enthusiasm.

Allistair Pollard, 14, from Alderholt, beat dozens of other applicants to win a week-long trip aboard the John Laing this summer, a once in a lifetime experience awarded to students who have overcome adversity.

Learning support assistant Amanda Jukes, who coordinated the school’s nominations for the Marina Development Ltd (MDL) Sailing Awards, said she was thrilled Allistair had won the place.

She said: “Allistair’s a bright lad but he struggles academically and he will get so much from this trip. He just enchanted the judges with his personality.

“Allistair was inspired by a recent visit from paralympic sailor Geoff Holt to the school, he said Geoff was amazing. I told him if a quadriplegic can achieve so much there was nothing stopping him achieving whatever he wanted.

“I believe Allistair will come back a changed boy. He is very hard on himself and hopefully he will see he doesn’t need to be.”

Allistair’s voyage will begin at Ipswich and go across the Thames Estuary and around the Kent coast before passing through the straits of Dover and down the English Channel to Southampton. He will live aboard the ship and receive intensive training, and in September he will receive a certificate from a celebrity sailor at the Southampton Boat Show.

Ms Jukes added: “When Allistair was told he had won a place he was speechless, just totally thrilled. And when the headteacher David Pover announced it at assembly and he went up to shake his hand he was grinning from ear to ear. Everyone there was grinning from ear to ear, and there were one or two people with tears in their eyes. This will mean so much to him.”

Each year MDL sponsors six places on sailing boats for students in the south west and Thames estuary.

This year a total of 39 students were nominated in the Hampshire area alone, including five from The Burgate School.