19 September 2019

My life now - meet Tom

It's 16 years since the Trust set sail - where are the young people who have come on trips and what are they doing now?

Part of rebuilding confidence after cancer is realising life is full of potential. Trust trips aim to be stepping stones along the way, providing support between treatment finishing and everything that lies ahead.

As part of a new series, young people share what their lives look like years on from their time with the Trust.

Kicking us off is Tom Roberts, who first sailed with the Trust almost a decade ago.  He tells his inspiring story of going from being socially anxious to watching the sun rise of Mt Fuji and landing his dream job.

Tom Roberts


What were you diagnosed with and when?
Ewing's sarcoma (bone cancer) on October 6th, 2008 - 16th birthday.

When did you first sail with the Trust?

What do you do now?
Video Production Executive for World Sailing.

What does that involve?
I'm responsible for the delivery of World Sailing's video output; videography and editing, digital media management, event media and broadcast.

Why did you want to do this?
I developed a real interest in storytelling through hearing the amazing stories of young people and everyone I'd met through the Trust. This passion continued, eventually settling on sport. Pairing this with a sparked passion for sailing through the Trust, it was the perfect combination.

What's the coolest thing you've done lately?
On a work trip to Enoshima, Japan for a World Cup Series event, I had the opportunity to climb Mount Fuji for sunrise. However, easily trumping that was recently attending a very good friend's wedding who I met through the Trust. Marking such a significant milestone with friends I have such strong bonds with was an emotional moment.

Why did you need the Trust's support in recovery?
I struggled immensely with confidence and social anxieties following my treatment, the effects of which I still feel today. I was never an extrovert before treatment but certainly found it more difficult afterwards trying to reintegrate into friendships and wider society.

I'd also never experienced sailing and doing what is considered a fairly niche sport in Derbyshire would allow me to test myself and my spinal reconstruction to see where I was at. From the moment I joined the coach leaving from Nottingham hospital, I felt part of something, part of something bigger than the bubble I'd been in with my Mum.

It was not necessarily moving away from treatment but toward something that wasn't full of the sights of corridors, the smell of alcohol gel, the incessant soundtrack of beeps, squeaky wheelchair wheels and retching.

What part has the Trust played in you doing what you are now?
They strongly align, my experiences with the Trust and what I do now, and it sparked my passion for sailing and storytelling in sport. I've followed my interests since my first trip and feel extremely fortunate to have somehow landed in a dream job.

What's your top tip for a young person interested in becoming a videographer?
Create as much as you can, good or bad (and at first there may be a lot of bad). Just create. Practice always makes perfect and it will help develop the hugely important editorial skill of finding out what works, why it works, who it works for and how you could re-create the magic part of it somewhere else for a different project and story.

Obsess over the craft and know as much as possible technically so regardless of the kit you use, you're not held back from getting what you want from in-front of the camera to the computer screen. You can achieve amazing things with very little, it's all about the story. The why.