18th July 05
Northern Ireland youngsters get to sail with Ellen MacArthur and Double Olympic Gold Medallist Shirley Robertson
A group of eight young people from the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children, all either in remission or currently being treated for cancer and leukaemia went sailing with the Ellen MacArthur Trust on 14th July -18th July around the Isle of Wight. During the four day sailing trip, the youngsters also got to sail with the charities two patrons, Round the World Yachtswoman, Ellen MacArthur and Double Olympic Gold Sailing Medallist Shirley Robertson.
Youngsters from Northern Ireland who attended the four day Ellen MacArthur Trust trip, some of who had never experienced sailing before included; Sarah Leonard, 15, Bangor; Tiarnon Dorman, 17, Co. Tyrone; Andrew Wright 17, Co.Down; Jennifer McKever 17, Co. Antrim; Alastair Miller 19, Ballymina; Finvola Devlin 15, Co. Derry; Aaron Benton 17, Co. Derry and Maria Turner 18, Co. Down.
Maria Turner from Co. Down had never sailed prior to coming on the trip. “I didn’t want to come here (sailing) and then when I did come it changed my mind – sailing is class, so I am definitely going to keep it up – it’s going to be one of my hobbies and I’ll come again next year!”
Ellen MacArthur commented “The Ellen MacArthur Trust has grown enormously since the first sail days in 2003. We are now organising five sailing trips this year, all over the UK, including Northern Ireland that means fifty kids out on the water. It is amazing the difference you can see in the kids from the day they step on the boat to the day they step off. Their confidence and personality grows enormously and it is fantastic to see that happening.”
“These are really special kids. In many ways they are just the same as everyone else, they are interested in the same things as kids their age, they have the same goals in life, but the difference is that they do this with a huge challenge ahead of them. I face challenges out on the water, but these are challenges that I choose to do. They on the other hand don’t have this luxury. They battle against something harder than many of us could ever imagine and they do it with the biggest smiles on their faces. To me they are truly inspirational and if the EMT can help them in their battle in any way then that is a fantastic achievement.”
The trip lasted four days with the boats staying at different ports each night, and the children and crew including special care nursing staff live and sleep on board. The experience of going out on the water for the first time is an adventure. Each child has challenge to help sail the yachts, working together as a team. Each voyage is lead by experienced, professional sailors who are used to working with children.