Liverpool is preparing to give a warm welcome to six young people all in recovery from cancer as they are set to complete the latest leg of the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust’s epic four-month Round Britain 2017 challenge by sailing into the city on Thursday (7 September).
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 benefited from Trust support.
The Trust’s 44ft voyage yacht, Moonspray, will set off on the 100-nautical mile Round Britain Leg 15 passage from Holyhead, Anglesey to Liverpool on Tuesday (5 September) with an overnight stop in Conwy en route. Given the recent unsettled weather, the crew delayed their departure from Holyhead for a day and instead took the extra time to visit the local Coastguard station to learn what goes on behind the scenes.
With an overnight stay planned in Liverpool Marina on Thursday, a visit to the BBC studios with Pudsey and a sail on up to the Albert Docks on Friday, the young crew have a lot to look forward to this week.
Between 1pm-4pm on Saturday 9 September the public are invited to head down to Albert Dock to have a look around the boat, meet the team and learn more about the Trust and its work.
Amongst the Leg 15 crew is 14-year-old Molly Baker-Hunt from near Chesterfield, who first sailed with the Trust in 2012 after treatment for Wilms Tumour (kidney cancer) at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust in 2011.
She said: “I’d like to help other young people know that even if you have an illness like cancer it doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun. On Trust trips it’s easier to talk to new people as you share similar experiences and stories and I like working as part of a team and making new friends. I’m looking forward to the new experiences Round Britain will bring.”
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.
Also on board for this Round Britain leg is 12 year-old Ian Shepherd from Bredbury, near Stockport, who enjoyed his first Trust trip in 2014 after treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital between 2008 and 2011.
He admits his two previous Trust trips, both from the Trust’s Northern base of Largs on Scotland’s West Coast, have had a big impact on his recovery.
Ian said: “I gained more confidence from those trips. Sailing from Largs to other places in Scotland with people that have had similar childhood experiences really helped. On Round Britain I’m looking forward to sailing around places I know and being with my friends.”
Four of the Leg 15 crew will leave Moonspray on Saturday 9 September as three more young people join the boat for Leg 16, the 180-nautical mile sail across the Irish Sea to Belfast. Round Britain 2017 finishes back where it started in Largs on 23 September.
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