Launched by the history-making yachtswoman in 2003, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is a national charity that rebuilds confidence after cancer and uses sailing to support, empower and inspire young people aged 8-24 in embracing their future with optimism.
Between May and September, over 100 young people who have all sailed with the Trust following cancer treatment, are taking part in an extraordinary 2,400-mile sailing relay around Britain to celebrate recovery, achievement and potential. Up to five different young people are joining the crew for each leg, while three of the full-time crew have also been through treatment and had the Trust’s support over the years. Five of the Dartmouth-bound crew, aged between 14 and 17, joined the 44ft voyage yacht, Moonspray, on Saturday (5 August) in the Trust’s home base of Cowes before departing on the 120-nautical mile Round Britain Leg 11 journey along the English Channel to Devon. This leg includes planned stopovers in Poole, Weymouth, Portland and Brixham en route.
Emily Wright, from Redlynch, Wiltshire, is this leg’s youngest crewmember. The 14-year-old, who despite being registered blind is the goalkeeper and captain of her able-bodied U16 football team, first sailed with the Trust in 2016 after treatment for optic nerve glioma.
She said: ‘All the adults, young people and volunteers at the Trust understand you, what you have been through and what you are capable of. They don’t care about your ‘disability’ or the past, only about what you can achieve in the future. Through my first trip I’ve made lifelong friends, learnt sailing skills and felt at ease with others who understand me.’
Meanwhile, also amongst the Leg 11 crew is 16-year-old West Country lad, Elliott Howe from Truro. Elliott also sailed with the Trust for the first time last year after treatment for Langerhans cell histiocytosis at the Royal Cornwall Hospital between 2006 and 2008.
He added: ‘The Trust trips are challenging but also provide you with new life skills as well as enabling me to talk to people of my own age who have experienced cancer, as not all cancers are the same.’
Between 1pm and 4pm on Saturday (12 August) at Town Jetty Pontoon, Moonspray will be open to the public to meet the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust team, have a look around the boat and learn more about the Trust and its work. This year the Trust will work with almost 600 young people in recovery. But for every young person they currently support, there are nine they cannot.
Moonspray then departs on the 90-nautical mile sail to Falmouth – the port where Ellen completed her world record 71-day solo circumnavigation of the globe in 2005 – on Sunday 13 August, before heading round the South West coast and on to Wales and Belfast. Round Britain 2017 finishes back where it started at the Trust’s Scottish base in Largs in September.
Through the campaign people and by sharing the stories of the young people taking part, Round Britain 2017 aims to raise awareness of the Trust’s work both publicly and within the hospitals and medical support networks around the country, many of which the young people will be visiting during the voyage.
by Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust