After months in the planning, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust Round Britain 2017 voyage set sail from Largs, Scotland on Saturday, 20 May.
This 2,400 mile voyage will see more than 100 young people take part in a national sailing relay around the British Isles, stopping at over 60 towns and ports in a celebration of recovery, achievement and potential.
Largs is home to the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust’s northern base where they support young people in recovery from cancer and help them rebuild their confidence following treatment.
Dame Ellen MacArthur, founding patron of the trust, officially started the voyage as the Trust’s 44ft flagship yacht Moonspray crossed the start line at 1415.
Speaking to supporters in Largs Sailing Club in advance Ellen said: ‘Round Britain 2017 gives us the ability to take the message of the Trust, but most importantly the young people who have sailed with the Trust over the years, around the country to let people know what we do, how we do it and to let the public meet the young people and see for themselves what this is all about.’
Guests including families of the crew and trust supporters were invited to join the crew at Largs Sailing Club in advance of them crossing the start line, where they had a chance to ask questions to some of the young people in recovery from cancer taking part.
Krissi who is 21 from Hertfordshire first sailed with the Trust in 2009 and has returned for many trips since.
Now joining the Round Britain 2017 crew for leg 1 as a volunteer for the Trust, Krissi explained the difference the Trust makes to young people like herself: ‘As a young person, the fact that you get the opportunity to be in a situation with people who are like you, and have had the same or similar experience to you, is just an amazing thing. Because you get put back into school where everyone just views you as the ‘ill’ one, that just becomes your personality. When sailing with the trust, where actually everyone was ill, you get to understand who you are as a person and make yourself into an older person and grow so much. As a graduate volunteer, seeing the other young people grow so much over the four day trips is an amazing experience.’
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The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is a national charity taking young people aged between eight and 24 on sailing trips to help them rebuild their confidence after cancer treatment and re-engage with education, employment and society.
Uniquely, the charity offers long-term support to the young people they work. Round Britain 2017 forms part of the ‘return to sail’ trips with all the young people taking part having previously sailed with the trust, whether that be a year ago or 10 years ago.
Frank Fletcher, CEO of the trust said: ‘To find the confidence to re-imagine a positive future following a cancer diagnosis, young people need support over time.’ He added: ‘That is why we’re embarking on arguably our most ambitious project ever – the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust Round Britain 2017. The memories these young people make and the personal triumphs they will achieve will help bring back into focus positive options for their futures.’
Find the latest voyage updates at: ellenmacarthurcancertrust.org/round-britain-2017
The intrepid Round Britain crew are now making their way up the Firth of Clyde to Glasgow where Ellen will meet the crew and they will join young people still undergoing treatment for cancer from the Royal Hospital for Sick Children to share their own experiences of treatment.
Look out for the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust Round Britain 2017 crew as they moor up in Glasgow’s Pacific Quay between 24 to 26 May and follow as they move port to port through Scotland over the coming month.