The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust successfully kicked off their 2021 season in Round the Island Race on 3 July, marking the first time the charity has sailed since October 2019.
The iconic 50nm race around the Isle of Wight was an important ‘test event’ for the Trust to check all the extra Covid safety measures they will employ when they welcome young people living through and beyond cancer back on the water from 12 July.
Frank Fletcher, Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust CEO, said: “It was emotional seeing Solent Hero back on the start line of this year’s Round the Island Race. It has been an extremely challenging 16 months for everybody, but for young people living through and beyond cancer the anxiety, isolation and loneliness they have experienced have been massively amplified by the pandemic. That is why we are doing everything we can to bring them back together this summer.”
The Trust’s boat was crewed in the race by a team of staff and four volunteers, who were themselves supported by the Trust during their recovery. Over two days they put into practice the many Covid protocols they will be using to keep young people as safe as possible this summer, including testing, temperature checks, sanitisation, cleaning and fogging.
Now 27, Camilla Hickish, who has been involved with the charity for 11 years after she was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma at 15, said: “The magic of the Trust was still there.”
Camilla explained: “It was fantastic to get out on the water, once you are out there not only do you forget about the pandemic and everything, but you are also just back to the usual Trust enjoyment. I felt completely safe with the new COVID safety procedures, they just fit very naturally into the enjoyment of the trip, and it didn’t detract at all from the experience.”
After all the Trust’s 2020 sailing and outdoor activities were cancelled, taking part in Round the Island Race gave the team confidence they can safely get young people back on board this summer.
Frank Fletcher said: “Nothing matters more than keeping young people, our volunteers, skippers and team safe, and while we can’t eliminate all COVID-risk we feel reassured that our revised safety procedures and risk management measures minimise it.
“We are now looking forward to three months of supporting hundreds of young people across the UK. Thank you to everyone that supported the Trust during Round the Island Race it will make a huge difference to these young people being able to believe in a brighter future, so thank you.”
The Trust has been the official race charity since 2005 and to mark the race’s 90thanniversary more than £9,000 was raised. To support the Trust and celebrate them getting back on board, simply text RACEFORALL to 70085 to donate £5 or visit their fundraising page www.justgiving.com/campaign/RoundTheIsland2021. *Texts cost £5 plus one standard rate message.