DEDICATED young carers earned a well-deserved break from their responsibilities and took to the waters for a three-day voyage.
A group of six girls from Hartlepool Carers set sail earlier this week aboard the impressive vessel, Captain Cook.
The youngsters, aged between 12 and 17, all dedicate their life to caring for family members.
But the kindhearted group were treated to the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity after the Ocean Youth Trust (OYT) offered the ship and their specialist staff free of charge.
The girls, who are all from Hartlepool, will be in control of the ship and will be responsible for everything from steering the vessel to cooking and cleaning the decks.
They set off on their voyage, alongside young carers family support worker, Steve Plant, and a crew from the OYT, on Wednesday and will return to their home town tomorrow.
Karen Gibson, young carers co-ordinator at Hartlepool Carers, which is based in the town’s Lothian Road, said: “This is an absolutely fantastic opportunity for the girls.
“Not only does it give them some respite from their caring role, it also offers them the chance to work on a number of skills.
“The voyage will teach them life skills as well as teamwork.
“They were all so excited beforehand, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Hartlepool Carers works closely with young carers in the town, offering them support and aims to reduce and eliminate the responsibilities of the youngsters.
The organisation organised a similar trip for a group of boys, in October last year.
Staff were ecstatic when they found out the OYT was offering the opportunity this year and gave the girls the chance to step aboard the ocean wave.
“The girls all deserve a trip like this,” added Karen.
“They are all so dedicated and hard working in what they do and it is nice for them to be able to relax for a few days.
“I’m sure they will all have a fantastic time.
“We would love this to become an annual trip for young carers, but obviously that all depends on funding.”