A Peterborough Woman Got To Hang Out With Will & Kate On A Tall Ship In Victoria

It’s not often one can say they met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; it’s even more rare to say you went sailing on a tall ship with them.

That’s exactly what Peterborough native Shannon Dillon did last week when she boarded the Pacific Grace, a replica of the famous Canadian schooner Bluenose, with Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Shannon Dillon pictured with Will, photo via  jackdotorg Facebook page

Shannon Dillon pictured with Will, photo via jackdotorg Facebook page

The two Royals were on the last leg of their Canadian West Coast tour when they stopped in Victoria, British Columbia for a visit on October 1st. As huge mental health advocates themselves, William and Kate wanted to sail with a group of Canadians who shared those same values. Which is where Jack.org came in.

Shannon Dillon pictured with Kate, photo via  jackdotorg Facebook page

Shannon Dillon pictured with Kate, photo via jackdotorg Facebook page

With chapters at 38 universities (including Trent), seven colleges and 59 high schools, Jack.org describes itself as “the only national network of young leaders transforming the way we think about mental health”.

After doing some background checks on Canadian agencies, the Royals decided to invite representatives from Jack.org to join them on the tall ship.

That included Peterborough’s Shannon Dillon, 23, who now resides in Kingston where she attends Queen’s University. Dillon is co-founder of the university’s Jack Chapter, and has already started to see changes in the way mental health is talked about on campus.

Dillon, along with 18 other student leaders, two staff members and Jack.org founders Eric Windeler and Sandra Hanington, was able to partake on this mini-voyage with Will and Kate in Victoria harbour. RBC graciously footed the bill to fly them all out to B.C.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose the Pacific Grace for this rendez vu because they felt the ship related to how we need to deal with mental health.

On a tall ship everyone has to work as a team; if someone is struggling on board to do their part, the rest of the team has to step up and be there to back that person up and help them through the struggle. Just like in life if someone is struggling mentally, we all need to rally around them and be there for support. It’s all about helping each other.

Shannon, who was born in Peterborough and spent the early part of her youth here before moving to Young’s Point—she attended Lakefield Secondary School before heading to Queen’s to study in their Concurrent Education program—says it was an awsome experience meeting Will and Kate.

"Talking about mental health with the Royal Couple was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I’ll never forget," she tells PTBOCanada. "Each of the student leaders onboard the tall ship participated in hoisting the sails and had a conversation with Will and Kate about what they were doing on their campus. I was fortunate and got to talk about my involvement on Queen’s campus. The Royal Couple were engaged in the conversation, asking questions about our campus and how we got involved with Jack.org."

Dillon also tweeted about this experience here...

Yes, this Peterborough woman will be talking about this empowering, inspiring trip for years to come.

—post by Scott Arnold

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