Eight young people in recovery from cancer will be welcomed into London on Thursday 20 July as they sail up the River Thames to Canary Wharf at the end of the latest leg of the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust’s epic four-month Round Britain 2017 sailing challenge.
Launched by the history-making yachtswoman in 2003, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is a national charity that rebuilds confidence after cancer and uses sailing to support, empower and inspire young people aged 8-24 in embracing their future with optimism.
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, with up to five different young people joining the crew for each leg.
Five of the London-bound crew, aged between nine and 13, joined the Trust’s Round Britain 2017 voyage yacht, Moonspray, this weekend in Harwich to make the 120 nautical mile journey around the bottom of East Anglia and up the Thames into England’s capital city.
One of the leg nine crew members is Vicky Stokes (27) who first sailed with the Trust ten years ago after treatment for Osteosarcoma at UCLH and is now joining the crew as a volunteer medic. She said: ‘For me, it’s about giving something back. I hope that it will be useful for the young people on board now to see me, ten years on, doing well – life moves on after the cancer. Looking back to when I sailed as a young person and where I was then, I would have loved to have seen someone who was 27, 28, 30, gone back to school, got their grades, gone to university, and done something. I would hope to be a role model from that side of things. But at the same time, it’s still great fun!’
She continued: ‘It’s great to be involved in a project that means so much to the young people – I know that it made a difference to me so to be part of something which will hopefully make a difference to others is just wonderful.’
On their first day in London (Friday 21 July), the young crew will head to the London Stock Exchange to open the market for the day. This is the third of a three-year partnership between the London Stock Exchange Group Foundation and the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.
Multi-asset class clearing house, LCH Clearnet, who are part of the London Stock Exchange Group, have a long history of supporting the Trust, with LCH Clearnet CEO, Martin Pluves, an Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust Trustee.
Mr Pluves visited the Round Britain 2017 crew in Hull at the end of leg seven. He said: ‘I see the effects of Trust trips on these young people; it kick starts their confidence and the magic of sailing has a transformative effect. They are given the chance to make the most of their potential in a fun setting, regardless of where they are from or the challenges they have faced.’
On day two (Saturday 22 July), the crew will savour the experience of entering London through the iconic Tower Bridge. Courtesy of project partner Livett’s, friends, family, partners and Trust supporters will escort Moonspray aboard one of the largest vessels on the Thames – the replica 1890s Mississippi Stern-wheeled Paddle Steamer, The Elizabethan.
Moonspray will then remain berthed in St Katherine’s Dock for the remainder of the week, with the public welcome to come down, meet the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust team, have a look around the boat and learn more about the Trust and its work.
Moonspray departs on the 200-mile sail to the Trust’s hometown of Cowes on 29 July before then heading round the South West coast and on to Wales. Round Britain 2017 finishes back where it started at the Trust’s Scottish base in Largs in September.
For every young person the Trust currently supports, there are nine they cannot. Yet. Through their #tell9people campaign 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 will be visiting during the voyage.
by Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust