As the 2023 sailing season comes to a close for the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, young people who’ve benefited from a sailing adventure with the Trust for the first time this year have reported they’ve found ‘support’, ‘confidence’ and ‘joy’ onboard.
These young sailors have lived through cancer, with many enjoying the transformational four-day sailing voyage courtesy of the Ancasta Group following its pledge at the beginning of the season to donate the cost for one young person to join the Trust for a first-time trip, for every new boat sold.
This year, Ancasta’s partnership with the Trust has enabled more young people to benefit from the support after cancer that the Isle of Wight based charity provides, moving the Trust closer to its ambitious target of supporting 16 per cent of the young people it could by the end of 2025 (currently at nine per cent).
Cancer often has a big impact on a young person’s mental wellbeing and for many, picking up where they left off before their diagnosis just isn’t possible.
Speaking of his illness and his experience onboard, Nabeel Miah (17), says: “I know it affected my mental health. And when it affects your mental health, what you need is support. This can give you support; this can give you help; this can provide you with what you need. And honestly, the sailing trips are spot on with that. It can help you build friends, connections, help with anything else.”
Each sailing adventure starts in either East Cowes or Largs with a welcome briefing, team bonding games, a BBQ, and a relaxed evening of getting to know each other before the would-be sailors cast off the following day. And it’s this gentle and inclusive introduction that sets the tone for the whole trip, making the voyages a positive and life changing experience.
“I was really nervous,” continues Nabeel. “I’m not an introvert, but I just built up a lot of anxiety of meeting new people. The staff made it much better because they were more friendly, they asked me questions, how I was feeling, how I was doing, they were very supportive.”
The Trust’s trips allow young people to have fun, gain a new sense of purpose and self-worth, rediscover independence, and feel optimism for the future. They realise what they are capable of again, feel accepted and no longer like ‘the only one’.
“When I had surgery, when I had cancer and everything, I always thought I was alone,” explains Nabeel. “But when I came on this trip, I realised I wasn’t alone. When I’m speaking to everyone, I realise I’m not alone. It makes me feel like, we’re all in this together in a way. It just brings joy.”
Throughout the four-day trip, the young people are encouraged to work as a team and get involved with all aspects of life onboard, from steering and wildlife spotting to cooking and cleaning, giving them the confidence to live their lives after cancer.
“I had kidney cancer,” says first-time voyager, Sam Thomson (12). “It impacted my life. When I came out of it, there was a lot of changes. It also changed me quite a lot, in the sense that I have more experience with dealing with things now.
“I think I’ve got more knowledge of how to handle things. I’ve learned a lot of skills, which I’m really happy about. I feel more confident than when I first came.”
Ancasta’s support will continue next year, and beyond. Nick Griffith, Ancasta Group Managing Director, comments: “Over the years we’ve seen the valuable work the Trust does, and now hearing the words of the young people that have been directly impacted by our involvement only strengthens our commitment to this amazing charity. We’re proud to be in partnership with the Trust, and we’re delighted to continue to assist in giving more young people the chance to experience this wonderful and immensely productive programme.”
Frank Fletcher, Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust CEO, says: “We have an ambitious aim across the next few years to support more young people than ever before, and Ancasta’s support will help us achieve this. Thanks to Ancasta, young people are able to access post-treatment support, often for the first time, putting them on the path towards a brighter future beyond cancer.
“I want to say a massive thank you to Nick and everyone at the Ancasta Group for having a positive impact on young lives and I look forward to continuing our work together.”
For more information on the Ancasta Group visit https://ancasta.com
For more information on the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust visit https://www.ellenmacarthurcancertrust.org or follow @EMCTrust across social media.