11 May 2021

Recognising the incredible Trust volunteers

“She is a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day - exactly what was needed during 2020!” - this was just one of the glowing testimonials which saw Wen Stone named the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust’s 2020 Volunteer of the Year.

Wen stone volunteering on a Trust trip

Wen, was presented with the Trust’s annual Luke Gilbert Volunteer of the Year Award in recognition of the difference she has made to the lives of many young people living through and beyond cancer over the past 12 months.

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is a national charity that inspires young people aged 8-24 to believe in a brighter future through sailing and outdoor activity. When treatment ends the Trust’s work begins, as for many young people simply picking up where they left off before their diagnosis just isn’t possible.

Wen herself was diagnosed with Very Severe Aplastic Anaemia – or bone marrow failure – while in the first year of a BA in Fine Art at Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2010. Within two weeks she had a bone marrow transplant and in five years had 148 blood transfusions.

During her recovery, Wen sailed with the Trust for the first time and for the past eight years has volunteered on trips across the country, supporting young people who have been treated for cancer. As Trust support went ‘virtual’ in 2020, Wen’s commitment and positivity never waned despite having to shield for long periods herself.

Wen said: “It still seems a bit surreal winning the award. I’m massively grateful and humbled by it especially when there are so many incredible volunteers at the Trust. With the past year looking and feeling so different, I was just doing what I always do...using my experiences to help make others’ experience that bit easier.

“Because I spent so much of the past year shielding, I knew what it was like, I knew the challenges faced when the rest of the world began to open and ease while for us it was still a strict no go. I knew the ups and downs that came with being high risk for COVID. Being able to still volunteer and bring some fun to those stuck inside brought me as much joy as I hope it did for them.”

2020 Volunteer of the Year nominees

Every young person should feel positive, accepted, confident and independent living through and beyond cancer. On Trust trips, young people build confidence by making friends with others who have had similar experiences - often for the first time, rediscover independence away from home and outside of their ‘cancer bubble’, begin to realise what they are capable of again and most importantly, they stop feeling like the ‘only one’.

Wen added: “The Trust has been a huge part of my life the past 10 years. I love volunteering and 10 years on I’m still learning things and getting things from being part of the Trust. I'm still growing in confidence and am able to use what I’ve learnt from the Trust in my everyday life. I'd not be who I am without the Trust. It’s a family that brings so much life change and a brighter future for so many.”

You can listen to more from Wen on the Trust podcast Sound Waves HERE.

The Luke Gilbert Volunteer of the Year Award was introduced in 2017 in celebration of the Trust’s legendary volunteer. Luke’s personality, sense of humour, enthusiasm, compassion, and huge amount of fun made him an inspiration to everyone he met. The award winners demonstrate all the qualities Luke embodied. Wen was nominated by young people, volunteers and staff and chosen as the winner by a panel, including Luke’s mum, Julie.

The Trust is so lucky to have so many incredible people that volunteer. Amazing people who give so much of their time energy and love. Thanks to everyone who voted, the nominees were:

Chloe Parsons, Victoria Sanches, Anniella Etheridge, Danielle Clapcott and Macy Boyling.

We really couldn’t do what we do without you all.

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