Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

These Children Are Braver Than I Could Ever Be

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

These Children Are Braver Than I Could Ever Be

Article excerpt


Two years ago, at the age of 23, Ellen MacArthur became the youngest and fastest woman to sail singlehanded around the world. She has just launched her own charity, the Ellen MacArthur Trust, which gives children with cancer the chance to go sailing

THE boy could have been only 10, but he turned out to be a fantastic helmsman. He was so full of energy, he wanted to steer the boat for ever and learn everything about how to sail.

We were sailing in a regatta at Brest with the French charity, A Chacun Son Cap ("Everyone has a goal"), which takes children suffering from cancer and leukaemia on trips. It was my first outing with the charity and I didn't know what to expect. When you think of children with cancer, you have no idea how well or strong they are.

It was an extraordinary experience and one of the best days sailing I've had. The children were aged between eight and 18. Some of the older ones who had recovered from cancer helped the younger ones. It was incredible how they were drawn together by sailing.

Children learn so fast - but it was the 10-year-old in particular who really moved me.

However sick he was, there was no holding him back.

I thought the regatta trip might be awful, but it was fantastic: it made me realise that it was something I wanted to do again.

When I take children out sailing, I let them try most things - without putting anyone in danger, of course.

They seem mature beyond their years because of what they have been through.

After a couple of years working with the French charity, I decided to start a similar project in the UK. It is something I believe in, and which I feel will make a real difference to people's lives.

Having launched the Ellen MacArthur Trust at the London Boat Show, we did two sailing weekends for children with cancer and leukaemia this summer. I have been working with Sargent Cancer Care and the UK Sailing Association. We took two boats, with eight children on each, out on the Solent.

I'm doing this to give these children the chances I had. I was four when I first went sailing, and I have been passionate about it since. …

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