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About Us

Founded in 2010, the Sir Thomas Lipton Foundation is a registered charity (SC041451).

We care deeply about propelling 10 to 12 year old children – at school in areas of acute social and economic disadvantage - into their critical teenage years with an unforgettable experience of sailing, enterprise and achievement.

We strive to make that experience one that excites, motivates and challenges them to find out what makes them come alive; one that helps them to discover more of their potential in their teenage years; and one that boosts their attainment and motivation levels as they prepare for the all-important transition to secondary school.

The sea-change experience we deliver is called Buoyed Up. There is nothing else like it in the UK for this age group. We originally tested Buoyed Up in Australia and we have also successfully piloted Buoyed Up in South Africa in response to demand there.

Buoyed Up

Buoyed Up is a SEA change for 10 to 12 year old children growing up in areas where there are fewer opportunities to develop different interests and learn about the wider world. It delivers a unique experience focusing on Sailing, Enterprise and Achievement.

Buoyed Up introduces the children to new role models – such as sailing instructors, business people and those who have been successful in sport and the arts - who underline the value of resilience and perseverance to achieve goals and aspirations.

In addition to these encounters with inspiring individuals, we introduce the children to whole groups of people engaged in the maritime world of work.

In half day visits to shipping and engineering companies and nautical colleges, the children find out from a combination of practical activities and meeting different skilled people what it’s like, for example, to work in: engineering, design, navigation, naval architecture, marketing, catering, finance, Communications, IT.

Buoyed Up activities take place mainly within the school day. This is to ensure that all of the children can participate and that the activities are supported and monitored by the class teachers and classroom assistants whom the children know and trust. We have found the cooperation, commitment and enthusiasm of the teachers critical to the success of Buoyed Up.

Sir Thomas Lipton

At the heart of Buoyed Up is a narrative about the life and example of Sir Thomas Lipton (1848-1931).

Born in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, Thomas Lipton succeeded in becoming one of the world’s first global entrepreneurs. He opened his first grocery store in Glasgow in 1871.

Lipton built his success on a combination of stocking essential good quality products at affordable prices, a first-class customer service, his own charm, and a seemingly endless store of marketing initiatives that caught the public imagination.

By the turn of the century hundreds of Lipton stores could be found on high streets across Britain and Ireland. Since the early 1890s he had also become the owner of tea plantations. In his determination to cut out the so-called middle man, Lipton produced and branded his own tea.

His innovations in branding, packaging and advertising helped to establish Lipton Tea worldwide. Today, Lipton remains the world’s best-selling brand of tea, sold in more than 110 countries.

To this day the name of Thomas Lipton also commands great respect in the world of sailing. Not only did he sponsor sailing everywhere, from Britain to North America, from South Africa to Australia and New Zealand, he was passionate about sailing being accessible to everyone, regardless of age, income or background.

Through his personal charm, perseverance, sportsmanship and generosity in defeat in five America’s Cup challenges, Thomas Lipton became one of the most loved and respected people of his time. These qualities in sailing and business make him an inspiring figure to learn more about in Buoyed Up.

Through Thomas Lipton’s life, Buoyed Up presents opportunities to learn more about what it is to be an entrepreneur, about maritime heritage, about the tea trade, about shipping, about Victorian times, and about World War 1. At the same time, his life is a lesson in resilience and remaining positive through thick and thin.


Shirley Robertson OBE Shirley Robertson is one of the most successful female Olympic sailors in history. She is a double Olympic Gold Medallist. In 2008 she became the only female skipper who completed the five race series of the iShares Cup at the helm of the JP Morgan Asset Management Extreme 40. The same year she became the BBC’s Olympic sailing commentator. Shirley still competes at the top level in sailing and also presents CNN’s monthly sailing programme ‘Mainsail.’;

Jamie Matheson SJamie Matheson is the Executive Chairman of Brewin Dolphin Holdings PLC. Brewin Dolphin has sponsored the Scottish Series for more than 10 years, and also now sponsors The Commodores’ Cup.. Jamie was a Non-Executive Director of Scottish Radio Holdings plc from 2000 until its takeover by EMAP and is currently a Non-Executive Director of Bluehone AIM VCT2 plc and STV Group plc. A keen sailor and member of the Clyde Cruising Club, Jamie has lovingly restored Opposition, the yacht of former British Prime Minister, Ted Heath. Jamie is also a member of the Royal Thames Yacht Club.

Ian Ruff SIan Ruff is the Director of Capital Insurance Brokers P/L based in Canberra, Australia. Ian enjoys fitness, health, Sailing, Cycling & Skiing. Ian won a Bronze Medal sailing in the 1976 Olympics & was awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2000, along with numerous other State, National & International Sailing Championships. Ian was very proud to be a Torch Bearer in both the Sydney 2000 & Beijing 2008 Olympic torch Relays.

Founder & Director

Laurence Brady is them founder of the Sir Thomas Lipton Foundation. He is a writer and adviser with more than 25 years’ experience of management and fundraising in the non-profit sector. His biography of Sir Thomas Lipton, The Man Who Challenged America, was published by Birlinn in 2007.

Two new trustees have recently been appointed. Details will follow shortly.