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Class of 2018: From student to sailor

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Published on 04 July 2018

Ellie Lyall
Ellie Lyall

While her friends celebrated graduating from the University of Sunderland with a night on the tiles, Ellie, 21, was planning a day on the waves.

The Journalism student, who attended her graduation ceremony at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday, was picked to be the University’s Sail Training Ambassador 2018 for the Tall Ships Races.

It means it’s a hectic few days for Ellie, of Ellington, Northumberland, who will be boarding the Lord Nelson ship next week as Sunderland hosts the Tall Ships extravaganza.

Ellie, who had mum, Julie, and dad, Alan, watching her graduate, said: “My course tutor, Alistair Robinson, put me forward to be the Sailing Ambassador. At first I didn’t know what to think. I mean, I’d never sailed before.

“But then I just embraced the challenge and thought to myself ‘you can do this’.

“Now, I feel really honoured and I’ve spent the past year training at Sunderland Yacht Club, getting myself ready for what I’m sure will be the adventure of a lifetime.”

Ellie will be part of the Lord Nelson crew making the crossing to Esbjerg in Denmark when the ships leave Wearside on July 14.

She said: “It certainly is an unusual way of celebrating your graduation. I guess it’s not the traditional going out and having a few drinks way of marking the occasion.

Ellie already has a flight booked back from Denmark for July 20. And they the world is her oyster.

She said: “I’m looking forward to starting my career in journalism and seeing what the next few years bring me.”

“Being an Ambassador has given me opportunities I never in a million years imagined myself taking up when I first enrolled at the University in 2015.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at Sunderland and I’ve learned so much when I look back over the last three years.”

An estimated 80 ships will arrive in the city on 11 July for the Tall Ships Races, with the entrance promising to be a feast for the eyes for spectators.

The following day, on 12 July, the crews will parade from the Port of Sunderland, along the Wear, as a thank you to their host city.

The ships will close to the public on Friday, 14 July as they make the final preparations for the next leg of their voyage – and Ellie will be on-board ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

Alistair Robinson, Programme Leader for Journalism at the University of Sunderland, said: “Ellie was chosen in her first year at the university to be an Ambassador because she was already showing real promise as a student and as a journalist.

“It’s been a pleasure to see that potential develop since then. She brings such a sense of commitment and purpose to her journalism and to her studies in general. She is a great ambassador for the University and the Tall Ships.”

Graduation ceremonies from the University of Sunderland are happening this week and Monday, 9 July and Tuesday, 10 July.

For more information on the Tall Ships Races in Sunderland visit here