Each day ten children and young people learn they have cancer. Thankfully survival rates are increasing, but the long-term impact cancer treatment has on some young people means they may suffer with cognitive and mobility issues, leading to difficulty in balance and spatial awareness.
Thanks to the generosity from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust took a record number of young people sailing during the 2017 summer season. The financial support had an incredibly positive impact, enabling the Trust to offer more places to young people than ever before through the purchase of the uniquely adapted yacht, Solent Hero.
The purchase of Solent Hero was made possible after the Trust received an additional grant from the People’s Postcode Lottery on top of their long standing annual support.
Solent Hero has been specially modified for young people with mobility difficulties, most commonly arising from sarcomas and brain tumors, which means getting around a yacht can be extremely challenging for them. Wen Stone first sailed with the Trust back in 2011 while she was in recovery from Severe Aplastic Anemia, she remembers having fears of falling in and found it very daunting as she was still using a walking stick and very unsteady on her feet.
Wen has since volunteered and sailed on Solent Hero this summer, she explains how the new adaptions have improved her confidence when sailing onboard, “Solent Hero is a great asset to the Trust, it will enable more young people like me to have an even more fulfilling experience on their road to recovery as they rebuild their confidence after treatment”.
The modifications include, the fitting of extra hand rails and altering the cabin space to make a more accessible social area. The primary winches have been moved forward to give more room when maneuvering and the stern of the boat lowers to pontoon level.
This has given 70 young people an opportunity to take part in every aspect of running a yacht including domestic routines – they live, sleep and eat on the boat and sail from place to place enabling them to step out of their illness, with other young people who have been through similar treatment. The new yacht has been cleverly designed to create an environment which is inspiring, safe and fun specifically for those with mobility issues.
These adaptations will drastically improve the experience of young people with theses long-term side effects from treatment as Trust Patron Dame Ellen MacArthur explains; “The atmosphere the boat creates has an incredibly positive effect on the young people, allowing them to concentrate very much on what they can achieve rather than what they cannot. The key adaptations which have been made to this yacht will enable the Trust to expand their support and will be invaluable to the experience the young people have onboard, all of which is thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.”