20 February 2005

Katie Schuster profiles the Trust with Ellen at Greenwich

20th February 05

Ellen MacArthur brought B&Q up the Thames to Greenwich on Sunday 20th February and spoke to an enormous crowd of supporters at the Cutty Sark Gardens.

Katie Schuster, one of the trust’s previous students was there to meet Ellen on the big stage …an estimated crowd of 7,000 people turned out on a cold but sunny February morning to greet Ellen as she brought B&Q up the Thames to Tower Bridge and then back to Greenwich.

The trip was planned as a way of thanking the British public for their support of Ellen in her successful round the world, non stop, solo record breaking voyage.

It was also in support of her charity, The Ellen MacArthur Trust. The Trust was there to collect funds for their sailing trips. Thanks to the generosity of the public almost £2,000 pounds was donated into the orange B&Q buckets. Special thanks must go to Annie Winfield and Katie Miller for their unstinting efforts on the day; we bet they can hear those buckets rattling in their sleep!

Katie Schuster, one of the previous students on the Trust trips, was there to present Ellen with a bouquet of flowers. Katie was diagnosed with a brain tumour 3 years ago and is now well on the way to making a full recovery. Katie was so helpful on her trip that she has now become an official Trust helper and has returned as one of the crew to help deliver the programme to last year’s students.

Far form being daunted by the crowds, Katie said;

“I felt so hugely privileged when I was asked to come to Greenwich on Sunday and give flowers to Ellen. It was amazing to be there with Ellen and with everyone else who had come to support her.

Being absolutely freezing cold (along with everyone else) didn’t particularly help with my preparation for going up and talking to everyone, as I was shaking like a leaf! Lou was introduced to me and she explained how everything was going to run. I sat inside for a while watching as a small crowd grew and grew in to hundreds and hundreds of people. By this time I was really getting a bit nervous.

Eventually Ellen arrived on B&Q and went up on stage. She talked about her trip and the crowds were cheering her on. Richard, who was interviewing Ellen, ushered me to come on and I went up on stage, looked at the crowds and it was just incredible. When I was speaking, I did my best to try and answer as best as I could as it was a bit nerve-racking speaking in front of so many people. Ellen was great and she was supportive of me up on the stage.

We were invited to go on B&Q and we went over on the RIB and it was amazing being so close to the trimaran. It looked so huge close up and we got on and straight away I thought it would be fun to jump on the netting like Ellen did. We had a look inside where she was sleeping and it was tiny compared to how small I thought it was going to be and I was amazed that Ellen could stand so long having such a small space to live in for 71 days non-stop. My brother and I looked up at the mast and that was huge and to think that Ellen climbed up it was quite spectacular.

The biggest thing that came out of Sunday was being able to give something back to Ellen as I have been on two of her brilliant trips, which she puts so much in to and it was a way for me to say a big thank you.”

Katie’s whole family were there for the event. Teresa Schuster, Katie’s mum and one of our Trustees had this to say:

“With so much activity surrounding Ellen’s arrival back home after her extraordinary sailing success, everyone at The Ellen MacArthur Trust was thrilled when Ellen announced she wanted to sail B&Q along the Thames in London in the name of the Trust she founded two years ago.

Many people are unaware of the wonderful opportunity Ellen has given children recovering from cancer and leukaemia to experience life on the sea. I also am not sure that Ellen actually realises what an incredible gift she has given, a gift given from an extraordinary woman to extraordinary children. Over the last three years, I have learned that these kids beat their illness by sheer grit and determination, and it is these strengths that also help make up Ellen. The children are completely at ease with Ellen when she’s on the boats and it is because they of course have an understanding that does not, or cannot be put into words.

Sunday in Greenwich was special because Ellen was there with B&Q, but Sunday was also special because Ellen was thinking again of the children. Ellen’s gift to the children comes from no other place than her heart. Thank you Ellen for being you, and for helping bringing happiness to the kids you’ve reached out to.

From your loyal Trustees, Trust manager and volunteers alike a la belle Ellen, but our toes are still thawing out!”