A 13-year-old Dromara girl in recovery from cancer recently took part in a four-day yacht adventure, sailing the Firth of Clyde in Scotland.
Alannah Donnelly joined the crew of one of the yachts taking part, thanks to the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.
The trust was founded in 2003 with the aim of giving young people in recovery from cancer the chance to rebuild their confidence through sailing.
ForAlannah, who finished treatment at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital in September 2012, for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, it was her first time sailing with the Trust.
“It was quite amazing to stay on board a boat as I didn’t think I would ever do this in my lifetime,” she said.
Made aboard 42-48 foot cruising yachts, the Trust trips provide a chance for the young people to test themselves in a safe and supportive environment, encouraging them to work as a team and get involved in everything from helming the boat to cooking.
Alannah continued: “It’s an absolutely amazing trip, wonderful in fact.
“I have so many words to say about it.
“It was so nice here; even in the wet it was great.”
Departing from their Scottish base in Largs Yacht Haven, the young people navigated the waters of the Firth of Clyde and enjoyed various stop-overs, including Port Bannatyne on the Isle of Bute, before putting their new skills to the test cruising back into Largs. Dame Ellen McArthur, who herself tries to spend a day on as many trips as possible, said: “The mental and social fall-out from cancer can be just as devastating as the physical illness.
“Everything we do is about building confidence, self-esteem and having fun together.”
Now in its 13th year, the Trust has grown beyond every expectation into a national charity.
Working with every participant’s principal treatment centre and a growing number of designated units in the UK, it takes young people aged eight-24, who are recovering from cancer, on four-day sailing trips.
You can find out how you can support the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and help to make a real difference to young people’s lives by visiting website www.ellenmacarthurcancertrust.org.