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Blog: The journey to Tall Ships in Shetland

August 14th 2023

Last week I discovered that playing my part in SSE Renewables being a headline sponsor for Tall Ships has been a really important journey for me both professionally and personally. That journey started with a relaxed chat with Lerwick Port Authority 2 years ago which led to me writing the business and resource cases in order to secure the funds and ended by sharing drinks with guests and colleagues onboard a beautiful 3 mast schooner which usually spends its life in the Caribbean.

It sounds so easy when I put it like that but the months in between were full of long to do lists of all things big and small that would take this from a good event to a great one. I was at times wracked with self-doubt and not sure we could pull it off. I am sure my teammates were sick of hearing about what was happening – accommodation block booked (18 months in advance) GoPro on order, VR headsets for the tech tent, branded goodies, photographer secured, sailing gear for our trainees, guest lists and spreadsheets galore; the lists felt endless. It took everyone on the Viking team to want to take part, which they all did, it took an attention to detail that in the last few months had me working late into the night and it needed the most fantastic event as an awesome platform.

So, was it worth it? Absolutely! Did we do SSER proud? Yes, we did! Would I do it again? Without a doubt. SSE Renewables branding was there for all to see as were the baseball caps and rain ponchos being so proudly worn along with so many smiling faces.

As a Community/Stakeholder Engagement Manager it is sometimes hard to see where you fit or what value you bring to a project, because so long as it is ‘on ‘time’ and ‘in budget’ from a construction perspective, that’s what really matters. But the people who live with what we build are just as important and working closely with them and helping them adjust to the change of view from their kitchen window is vital. As I watched members of the community on that deck chatting and sharing a drink with the site team, I no longer underestimated what I do.

My ethos has always been to work with a community to give them what they need and how they need it and while this can be much harder than saying ‘here you go a nice big cheque’ it certainly places you in the heart of where we work. Opportunities present themselves in many ways some are not immediately obvious and some need you to take a risk. So if it’s going to improve relationships and our reputation jump in with both feet and enjoy the journey not just the destination.

Julie Graham, Community Engagement Manager for Viking Energy Wind Farm