13 November 2020
“It sounds really cheesy, but I know that I wouldn’t be sat here right now if it wasn’t for the Trust.”
Izzy already loved the water before she came on her first Trust trip ten years ago. She was referred by CLIC Sargent and required little convincing to spend a week on the Solent, beginning her recovery from Hodgkin lymphoma at 11 years old. It wasn’t new to spend time away from her parents, but this was the first time since her diagnosis. It felt huge. She didn’t find it easy bonding with people her age either, so she was nervous getting on the boat at Southampton with strangers she’d be spending the next few days with.
“As soon as we got over to the Isle of Wight, I was like, actually I can do this, these people are amazing,” she says. “Everyone on the boat going over to the island was just so silent, you could hear every wave against the boat. But coming back at the end of the week, you couldn’t even hear the water.”
Between 2010 and 2016, Izzy joined seven Trust trips. Apart from her first, when she sailed on the Solent, she always returned for a residential week at either Bradwell or the Lake District. They offered her more space to be independent – there’s not a lot of privacy on yachts! – and also the chance to spend more time actually in the water. She thinks back fondly to many capsized yachts and small sailing boats, and the opportunity to mess around in the lakes.
These people are my friends even if I haven’t met them yet
That love of the water kept her coming back each year, along with the new experiences and friends she kept making. “I wasn’t necessarily going back to the same people or the same trip, but it was the knowledge that these people are my friends even if I haven’t met them yet. We’ve all been through a similar thing; we can all communicate in that way and connect. It was a way for me to get out of my comfort zone, while also returning somewhere familiar.”
But each trip was also a springboard into the year ahead. Each year, around Easter, she would feel her confidence and courage start to slip, and realised her upcoming Trust trip would be the boost she needed to face new challenges. “The courage I gained from my first Trust trip helped overcome the cancer I’d just faced, but also the fact I’d moved into year 7, going from 98 children in my primary school to 2,000 in secondary. When I left year 7, we moved to Lincolnshire and my second Trust trip helped me overcome my fear of moving to a new place and starting a new school. Between years 9, 10, and 11, the Trust trips helped me through my GCSEs and moving on to sixth form.”
I am that caring person that can just be who they can come to in their time of need
Come 2017, she made the leap from young person to volunteer. It was weird being in charge at first – at 18 years old, being an adult still felt very new. She had had a small taster of responsibility on her last few trips, being trusted to handle boats on her own with other teenagers because of her years of experience. Now, she hopes young people see her as a volunteer who is fun, caring, and ready to listen to and look after them. “I’m not the boldest, the bravest, but I am that caring person that can just be who they can come to in their time of need. It happens to all of us on the trips, you have a moment where you might miss home or something happens that you’re not familiar with and you just need to go talk to someone. I’m always happy to be that person.”She vividly remembers the volunteers from her trips who had previously been supported by the Trust themselves. Being in that position now, Izzy is able to feel a bigger connection with young people because of their shared experience. “You know exactly what they’re feeling, you’ve been in their shoes. You can just help them so much better. You have a bigger connection because you’ve been there, done it, got the t-shirt.”
I’ve got ten years of Trust trips stored up
Being a volunteer doesn’t mean she has stopped looking to the Trust for that support she needed as a young teenager. Her first trip as a volunteer was a few weeks before she started university. “Even though that trip was probably the worst because I was ill, I still wouldn’t have gone to university if I hadn’t had all the trips in the past and that trip there. University was such a big jump, I moved 200 miles away from my parents to live on my own in halls, to do something I wanted to do my whole life, but it still felt like a huge change. The Trust really helped me. Everything they throw at you in the trips makes you think you can face anything in real life. And I have. I’ve faced so much since that first day on the 26 July 2010.”
Having graduated with a BA Honours in primary teaching, Izzy is now excited for the next chapter she’s been preparing her whole life for. “I’ve got ten years of Trust trips stored up and I’m ready to face whatever comes my way. It sounds really cheesy, but I know that I wouldn’t be sat here right now if it wasn’t for the Trust.”
Listen to Izzy talk about her ten years with the Trust on our Sound Waves podcast.