ANYONE who has had to sit through a school assembly knows they can often be dull affairs.
But if your school’s chairman of governors has just returned from a round-the-world trip and is regaling tales of his adventure aboard a 32 metre wide, 100,000 break horse power container ship, it is likely to make you sit up and take notice.
And that is precisely the impact Peter Hesketh, a governor at Belchamp St Paul Primary School, had recently.
The former policeman, who lives in Gages Road, spent four months travelling to places as far afield as China and Panama after setting off on New Year’s Eve.
“It was great to have such a long period of no responsibly,” said the 62-year-old.
“I went from Southampton to China, along the Suez canal and across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans before coming into Felixstowe.”
Travelling with only a handful of other passengers, Mr Hesketh visited 12 countries in total and estimates he covered nearly 30,000 miles.
“I had a real hankering to go around the world,” he said. “It is something that caught my imagination and I saw it as a challenge.
“By going on a container ship, I felt part of the process of shipping and, although it was not like being on a passenger ship and was very noisy, it was pleasant.”
It was not the first time Mr Hesketh has embarked on such a trip, having journeyed across the Atlantic two years ago, and he admits to jumping at the opportunity to get off dry land.
“My daughter, Anne, was very envious,” he said. “And my son Chris followed a blog I did avidly.”
The blog – a personal account of his journey available on the internet – has attracted more than 5,000 hits from people across the globe, including back in Belchamp St Paul Primary School.
“The children had regular discussions along the lines of ‘where’s our chair of governors now’,” said Mr Hesketh, who works as a mediator.
“It is fantastic to think that was taking place while I was in the middle of the Pacific looking at the stars on both sides of the horizon or in Hong Kong, which has such a vibrancy with east meeting west.”
It was in Hong Kong that he stopped off at a local school to give a talk about his trip – something he repeated at his village school after arriving home on April 20.
“The children in Hong Kong were fascinated by the environmental issues of the trip and wanted to know how much oil the ships burned,” said Mr Hesketh.
“Back home, the children wanted to know about what my cabin was like, the food, the weather and if I had ever fallen out of bed. They really loved hearing about the trip.”
Such was the interest shown by the children that Mr Hesketh is eager to give more talks, enabling him to give something back to the Seamen’s Clubs around the world that helped him keep in contact with loved ones while away.
“I had the privilege to go around the world, and the clubs let me use their computers to stay in touch with people,” he said.
“I am hoping to do some more talks for any groups that are interested, and I will give any donations to the club.”
q Anyone interested in hearing a talk about Mr Hesketh’s trip should contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.