Four year's after undergoing surgery and treatment for a brain tumour, sailing has boosted Ben Baldry's confidence
Ben Baldry’s easy smile as trims the sails during the Round the Island
Race, it’s hard to imagine this plucky 15 year old is anything but in
the six youngsters on board Scarlet Oyster take turns to grind the
winch during the many tacks of this light-wind edition of the race
around the Isle of Wight.
a long day with an 5.30am wake up call, ready for a 7.30am race start,
yet there was no whining from any of the teenagers even though the
becalmed conditions meant the voyage took almost 11 hours.
of the teenagers mentioned cancer or leukemia during the trip, other
than to comment on the book The Fault in Our Stars, which has just been
released as a film.
Yet all the youngsters have overcome huge health hurdles. Ben was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 11.
He underwent eight hours of surgery at the specialist Frenchay
Hospital in Bristol, followed by six weeks of radiotherapy and 18 months
Now, Ben’s scans have been stable for the past four years and he is monitored every six months.
Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust prides itself on restoring young people’s
confidence. And all are buzzing after a day at sea. Ben, of Kingsbridge,
near Salcombe, Devon, says his friends were ‘gutted’ when he told them
he was off to the Isle of Wight to compete in the race.
His dad Kevin can’t praise the ‘fantastic trust’ enough, saying ‘It’s helped Ben enormously.’
many parents, particularly those whose children have had health
concerns, Kevin says he and his wife can be overprotective of Ben. But when Ben’s with the trust, he’s part of the crew and
expected to pull
Kevin said: ‘It sounds like a cliché but it does the world of good for their confidence, not just Ben but all the young people.
kept him in cotton wool as parents but there he’s got to stand on his
own two feet, sleep on a boat, develop life skills, it’s brilliant as
far as we’re concerned.
‘And it was fantastic for Ben to meet Dame Ellen through that.’
first Ben’s family knew of his tumour was when he complained of a
headache. He set off for school and the mini bus driver called his home
to say something was wrong.
Kevin said: ‘He had stroke-like symptoms, his speech went funny and the right side of his face dropped.’
in recovery, Ben was introduced to the trust through his hospital at
Derriford and the CLIC Sargent charity. He took part in the Return to
Sail trip and then another sailing day, with a group of youngsters from
the Plymouth area accompanied by a CLIC Sargent nurse.
Kevin said: ‘Round the Island was the first trip he’s done off his own back.
‘He really enjoys the sailing. It does wonders for his confidence, like all the kids.
‘Ben has a weakness on his right side as a result of the surgery, although you wouldn’t know to look at him.
‘The sailing is good physiotherapy for that without him realizing.’
He added: ‘Even
though Salcombe is a big sailing place, not many people know about the
Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, although they’ve obviously heard of Ellen
‘We want to raise awareness of the trust’s work and hopefully inspire people to donate money, that’s what it’s all about.’
Find out more about the trust at www.ellenmacarthurcancertrust.org