Today (Friday 21 July) marked the half way point of the inspirational 2,400 mile voyage involving over 100 young people in recovery from cancer. The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust Round Britain 2017 arrived in London on Wednesday 19 July, sailing up the Thames with eight people on board who have received treatment for cancer. For the five U18s on board, sailing passed some of the iconic London landmarks was an unforgettable experience.
Ernie, from Saffron Walden, Essex, turned ten this week while sailing with the Round Britain 2017 crew. He said: “It was really fun sailing up the Thames because it was my tenth birthday and it’s not every day you get to spend your birthday on a sailing yacht, sailing through the Thames Barrier.”
The young people onboard this week are Ernie, Dominic (10 from Essex), Cassidey (12 from Norfolk), Eve (14 from Leicester) and Libby (12 from Warwickshire). In amongst enjoying some of the exciting tourist attractions the city has on offer, the crew signified the half way point of the voyage by opening the London Stock Exchange this morning. This is the third year of a three-year partnership between London Stock Exchange Group Foundation and the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. Martin Pluves, CEO of LCH Ltd, part of London Stock Exchange Group, spoke on behalf of LSEG this morning: “We’re proud to have the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust with us here today to open the market as our UK Charity Partner. It’s fantastic to be joined by the crew of Round Britain and young people both old and new who have been supported by the Trust over so many years. I have seen the confidence these young people get from the magic of sailing and it’s wonderful to be a part of that.”
A key element of the Round Britain 2017 voyage is to provide a unique opportunity for the young people sailing to return to the hospitals they were treated in and communicate their experience and recovery path to those currently undergoing treatment for cancer. For Vicky Stokes, 27, who was treated for Osteosarcoma at UCLH, this month is very special as it marks ten years since she first sailed with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust as a young person and ten years since she finished her treatment. She now joins the Round Britain 2017 crew as the volunteer medic on board having trained as a Junior Doctor – they are visiting UCLH as part of the London stopover. Commenting before the visit, Vicky said: “I hope our visit will help the young people still undergoing treatment see someone ten years older, and see that there is life after cancer and that they can go back to school and university.”
Saturday (22 July) will see the iconic opening of Tower Bridge as the young people on board get to experience the once in a lifetime opportunity to sail underneath it at 1230 with hundreds of onlookers and well-wishers waving them through. Friends, family and key supporters of the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust will be following closely behind on one of the largest vessels on the Thames, the replica 1890s Mississippi stern-wheeled paddle steamer, The Elizabethan.
The public are invited to come down to St Katherine’s Dock on Saturday afternoon and throughout the week to see the boat, meet some of the crew and learn more about the national charity which was set up by internationally renowned yachtswoman, Dame Ellen MacArthur, in 2003, to help rebuild the confidence in young people (aged 8-24) following treatment for cancer.
Moonspray departs on the 200-mile sail to the Trust’s hometown of Cowes on 29 July before then heading round the South West coast and on to Wales. Round Britain 2017 finishes back where it started at the Trust’s Scottish base in Largs in September.
For every young person the Trust currently supports, there are nine they cannot. Yet. Through their #tell9people campaign 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.