Six young people in recovery from cancer got front row seats to the thrilling Extreme Sailing Series as they were welcomed to Cardiff Bay at the end of the latest leg of the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust’s epic four-month Round Britain 2017 sailing challenge.
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 on the Trust’s 44ft yacht, Moonspray to celebrate recovery, achievement and potential. Up to five different young people are joining the crew for each leg, while two of the full-time crew have also been through treatment and benefited from Trust support.
Leg 13 saw the crew sail the longest non-stop passage of the whole voyage from Falmouth around to Portishead before entering Welsh waters for the first time. During their stay in Cardiff Bay, the crew got front row seats at one of the World’s most thrilling sailing events, the Extreme Sailing Series, which took place over the Bank Holiday weekend.
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.
During the crew’s Cardiff stopover, they took the time to visit local hospitals in Bristol and Cardiff to meet young people still undergoing treatment to help inspire them in seeing what is possible after cancer. For many of the crew, going into the hospitals is a huge part of what makes this voyage so special.
Alisha Saunders, who first sailed with the Trust in 2012 after treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, said: “It’s so nice for young people on treatment to know we were in that situation and hopefully it can give them the positive mindset that you do get better and life does carry on after cancer. There are so many opportunities out there.”
All six crew members on this leg now volunteer for the Trust to help support others going through experiences only they know.
Abbie Morton first sailed with the Trust in 2013 after treatment for Hodgkins Lymphoma and said: “Confidence comes from being given responsibilities aboard. Those sorts of things are often taken away while you recover at home. But realising you’re recovered enough to do the things that need doing on a boat is a huge boost.”
Moonspray departed Cardiff on Tuesday 29 August for the longest Round Britain 2017 leg, the 250-nautical mile voyage to Holyhead, before heading over the Irish Sea to Belfast. Round Britain finishes back where it started at the Trust’s Scottish base in Largs on 23 September.
This year the Trust will work with almost 600 young people in recovery from cancer. But for every young person they currently support, there are nine they cannot. Yet.
Through the campaign #tell9people 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.
You can support the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust’s campaign and follow Round Britain 2017 via the Trust’s social media channels and on the live voyage tracker at www.ellenmacarthurcancertrust.org.