Round Britain voyage surpasses expectations for Derbyshire youngsters
Two young people from Derbyshire, who are in recovery from cancer, admitted the "really fun" adventure of taking part in the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust's epic four-month Round Britain 2017 challenge had surpassed all their expectations after they sailed into Liverpool at the end of the latest leg last week.
Staveley's Molly Baker-Hunt, 14, and 12-year-old Izzy Lewis from New Mills were amongst six young people in recovery who took part in the 100-nautical mile Leg 15 sail from Holyhead into Albert Dock on the Trust's voyage yacht, Moonspray.
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.
As well as experiencing their first taste of night sailing and the thrill of dolphins swimming alongside the boat, the crew also visited the Holyhead Coastguard Operations Centre (CGOC) and got to be part of a Blue Peter rehearsal, meet Pudsey Bear and sit on the BBC Breakfast sofa on a trip to the BBC Studios in Salford. BBC Children in Need have been long-term Trust supporters.
Izzy, who enjoyed her first Trust trip in 2014 after treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, said: "The best bit was seeing the dolphins; there were a lot of them and they were jumping too.
"Trust trips are really fun and you meet lots of new people. It's really easy to talk to people because no one judges you. You can freely talk about things and no one laughs at you, they laugh with you. I'd definitely do this again!"
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 two of the full-time crew, Belper's Hannah Spencer and Tom Roberts from Ripley, both 24, have also been through treatment and benefited from Trust support.
Moonspray left Holyhead on Tuesday 5 September for an overnight stop in Conwy, where the crew played boules on the beach and visited the town's medieval castle. Then it was on to Liverpool and the BBC visit on Thursday. While in the city the crew also enjoyed trips to the Merseyside Maritime Museum, World Museum and Tate Liverpool.
Molly first sailed with the Trust in 2012 after treatment for Wilms Tumour (kidney cancer) at Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust.
She added: "I loved the amount of sailing we did this week because it's the most I've ever done so has been a new experience. When I helmed I had to keep the boat straight so we didn't go off course! Coming into Conwy it was dark so we had to spot the buoys that were flashing and the light patterns on the different boats.
"I keep coming back to the Trust because every year is different, you see old friends and meet new ones. I used to be quite shy but I've learned I can talk to more people and now I can play the guitar in front of people. I would never have done that before."
Molly and Izzy left Moonspray on Saturday (16 September) as four more young people joined the boat for Leg 16, the 180-nautical mile sail across the Irish Sea to Belfast. Round Britain finishes back where it started at the Trust's Scottish base in Largs on Saturday 23 September.
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.
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.