IT’S not every day you get the chance to sail off into the sunlight on a week-long venture abroad.

But that’s exactly what Helensburgh woman Laura Carrick will be doing in Abu Dhabi this week as she sets her sights on a gold medal at the Special Olympics World Games.

Laura is a youth forum coordinator and trustee at able2sail, providing opportunities to access sailing for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and with a wide range of additional needs.

She will lead a team of six competitors representing Great Britain in sailing at the games which kick off today (Thursday, March 14), featuring more than 7,000 athletes from 170 countries.

Laura is the unified partner for Shannon McGhee from Clydebank and helped the team win two silver medals and one bronze at the Special Olympics in Sheffield in 2017.

Following on from that success, they were chosen for Team GB at the Abu Dhabi games and Laura is delighted to be a part of the experience.

READ MORE: Helensburgh woman heading to Special Olympics with sailing charity.

She said: “We arrived in London on Thursday morning and attended a civic reception in the evening, so it’s been all go.

“We flew to Dubai on Friday, which was our host town until Monday and thereafter it was on to our sailing venue at Abu Dhabi. It’s an exciting time for us.”

After volunteering with the charity for more than 12 years, Laura was recognised for her commitment and dedication when she was presented with the Francis Elkin Award by Princess Anne at a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) ceremony in London at the end of 2018.

The prestigious accolade is given each year to an individual who has made a significant contribution to enabling people with disabilities to become involved in the sport, and she also received the Elizabeth McKay award recently for female endeavours in the sport of sailing.

Proud father Allan couldn’t be happier with his daughter’s achievements.

He said: “We are extremely proud of what Laura has achieved.

“My wife and I attended the ceremony in London when Princess Anne presented Laura with the Francis Elkin award from RYA and more recently I accepted the Elizabeth Mackay award on her behalf as Laura was in Sheffield with her team.

“I was delighted to do so and at that event Helensburgh was well represented with award winners.

“Able2Sail held a send-off recently before Abu Dhabi and it was a joy to see how excited the young people in the team were.”

While Laura understandably admits to being thrilled with her own personal awards, and will no doubt be aiming high at the Abu Dhabi games, she says her role with able2sail is rewarding in more ways than just earning medals.

She added: “I love the sense of camaraderie. It’s an honour to be a part of an organisation that encourages young people to participate in both the sport and social aspect of sailing, with such support, respect and positivity for each other.

“Without able2sail many of our members would never get access to the sport or the health and social benefits.

“It’s brilliant to see that many of these young people can themselves now mentor new members of the group.

“I volunteer for the satisfaction I get helping young people to recognise each other’s strengths, learn the value of teamwork and work together to achieve success. And it’s a lot of fun!”