14 January 2020

My life now – meet James

It’s 17 years since the Trust set sail – what are the young people who have been trips up to now?

In the same way volunteers, who were previously young people, encourage aspiration and possibility in new young people, so the stories of those who have since embarked on successful careers and followed interesting life paths can be equally inspirational.

In our 'My life now' series, young people share what their lives look like years on from their time with the Trust. This month meet James Allitt.


James Allitt



What were you diagnosed with and when?
Acute myeloid and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia on the 18th of May 2012.

When did you first sail with the Trust?


What do you do now?

I am currently a student, studying Automotive Engineering at Loughborough University. This year I am on placement working in the Engine Systems group at the Racing Point F1 Team.

What does that involve?

I am working as a design engineer, designing and developing the fuel system for next years car.

Why did you want to do this?

I have been a fan of motorsport for a long time and have an inquisitive nature. Engineering seemed a natural career path as I have an interest in how things work and how engineering is used to find solutions. Formula 1 is at the forefront of engineering and I am taking my first steps to achieve my career goal.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve done lately?

Last year I got the opportunity to assist the team of scrutineers at the Brands Hatch round of the DTM (German Touring Cars) racing event. I spent the weekend in the garage and on the grid, following one car ensuring that the team complied with the regulations. This gave me a great insight into how a team operates at a busy racing event and allowed me to get up close and personal with the cars and team.

Why did you need the Trust’s support in recovery?

Following treatment I had lost a lot of confidence in what I was capable of due to being incapacitated for long periods and losing a lot of muscle mass. The trust provided a safe place to push myself and find out that I am capable of much more than I thought.

Due to my time out for treatment and recovery, I had to drop back a year at school. This was daunting at first as I would not be able to re-join my Peer group. The trust trips helped me become more outgoing and it gave me the confidence to socialise and make new friends.

I had not had the opportunity to experience sailing before, I was unsure what to expect but enjoyed the team atmosphere and found a new sport. It also taught me to take every opportunity and make the most out of it.

What part has the Trust played in you doing what you are now?

I would not be the person I am today if it were not for the trusts impact. The confidence I have gained has helped me to forge new friendships, become more independent and put my life back on track. The trips show that you are not the only one going through this and helps to reintegrate with life after treatment.

What’s your top tip for a young person interested in studying automotive engineering?

Make the most of every opportunity. Any goal can be achieved, even the ones that seem impossible. If you set yourself small goals along the way it becomes easier to achieve your bigger ambitions. Never underestimate your own ability. Most importantly, be yourself, don’t try to be what other people want you to be.