Three Devon teenagers, who are in recovery from cancer, admitted being part of the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust’s epic four-month Round Britain 2017 sailing challenge had surpassed all their expectations as they completed the latest leg.
Crediton’s Jasmine Larkman and Felix Allen from Noss Mayo, both 14, and 16-year-old Chloe Niedzielski from Plymouth, were amongst seven young people in recovery who took part in the 90-nautical mile Leg 12 passage from Dartmouth to Falmouth aboard the Trust’s voyage yacht, Moonsprayover six days last week.
Launched by the history-making yachtswoman in 2003, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is a national charity that rebuilds confidence after cancer, using sailing to support, empower and inspire young people aged 8-24 in embracing their future with optimism.
Artistic Chloe, whose first Trust trip came in 2013 after treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia as a toddler at Derriford Hospital, captured her trip memories in sketches whilst at sea.
She said: “I feel happier and more positive than I did at the start of the trip, like a new person! I’ve learned to have more confidence in myself from doing something I’d not normally get to do. The Trust and this trip have made a difference not only to me but you can see it in the other young people on the boat too.”
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.
Felix, who was treated at Derriford for Wilms Tumour in 2013, continued: “I was helping to raise and lower the sails, unfurl the jib and did a lot of the helming. It’s improved my confidence greatly. Because you can visibly see where we’ve been and what we’ve done, it’s a recognisable achievement.”
Moonspray left Dartmouth for Salcombe on Monday (14 August) before heading to Plymouth, where the crew explored life beneath the waves at the National Marine Aquarium. As the weather turned en route to Falmouth, Felix sailed on while the girls enjoyed a day ashore visiting the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.
Meanwhile, on a visit to the new 39,000 tonne Tide-Class tanker, RFA Tidespring, being fitted out in Falmouth, the young crew learned how she will provide fuel, food, fresh water, ammunition and other supplies to Royal Navy vessels around the world.
Jasmine, who first sailed with the Trust two years ago after treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, concluded: “I’ve laughed a lot throughout the week. The Trust has made me feel good and it’s great to have a week away from everything, experience new things and learn cool stuff. It’s made me much happier.”
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.
The Devon trio left Moonspray on Saturday (19 August), as four more young people, all of whom first sailed with the Trust in recovery and are now Trust volunteers, joined the boat for Leg 13, the 230-nautical mile sail to Cardiff. Round Britain 2017 finishes back where it started at the Trust’s Scottish base in Largs in 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 are 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