Colleagues threw a surprise bon voyage party for nurse Pauline Centa last Thursday as she embarks on the Clipper sailing challenge.

The 69-year-old, who lives in Melksham and works at Holt’s Firlawn Nursing Home, has flown to San Francisco to take part in a leg of the round the world trip which will see her travel to Panama and Jamaica before finishing the five week excursion in New York.

Clipper crews set off in September, in London, and throughout the trip its 12 vessels have been docking and welcoming new crew members.

There are eight legs during the 11 month journey and the Clipper boats finish in London in July. Ms Centa, who sets off from San Francisco on April 19, is a novice sailor and will be joining amateurs and professionals in the challenge.

She said: “I’m really excited this is a trip of a lifetime, I’d seen the posters advertising it for a long time and I thought I’d give it a go.

“This is the first time I’ve ever really had the time or money to do something like this.

“I have an idea in my head how much I can and can’t do and I’m hoping to surpass my expectations.”

Staff and residents from the care home, in The Street, held a leaving party for Ms Centa on Thursday and wished her luck in her challenge.

Colleague Janet Brooks said: “It is really great to see Pauline setting off on this wonderful adventure and we just wanted to do a little something to let her know we’ll be thinking of her.

“We all think what she is doing is absolutely fantastic and very brave.”

Ms Centa will be returning to the care home in the summer.