Dame Ellen MacArthur's cancer charity sails from Largs

Dame Ellen McArthur at Largs Dame Ellen McArthur took part in the inaugural event at Largs

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Round-the-world yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur has launched her summer sailing base in Scotland for youngsters recovering from cancer and leukaemia.

The first trip took place at the newly-established hub in Largs, just six months after the scheme was announced.

Dame Ellen joined two groups, aged between eight and 24, for the four-day inaugural venture.

During the trip the groups spent three nights sleeping on board the 38ft to 48ft cruising yachts.

The trip involved various stopovers, giving the youngsters the chance to test their new skills and rebuild their confidence.

Positive impact

Dame Ellen, who broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe in 2005, founded the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust in 2003.

It has received £55,000 in funding from the People's Postcode Lottery, of which £40,000 was used to establish the Largs hub. Previously, young Scots had to travel to the Isle of Wight to take part.

Dame Ellen said the charity's work on the Isle of Wight had made a positive impact on people's lives, and the Largs hub could be "just as life-changing".

On board the vessel Two groups took part in the event
On board the boat The crews spent three nights on board their vessels
Young sailors Dame Ellen with some of the young people, who are aged between eight and 24
Dame Ellen with crew member Dame Ellen shows one crew member the ropes

She added: "We are really pleased to be working in Scotland. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world to sail and the young people gain so much from the experience.

"The creation of the hub in Scotland is vital to allow the trust to be as accessible as possible.

"The young people who are undergoing treatment, or who are in remission, have already likely travelled some distances to and from hospitals, so to have a hub in Scotland where Scots can now get involved in the trust's work is simply fantastic.

"The sailing trips are about taking the young people away from an environment where cancer, recovery, remission are words being focused on day in, day out, and giving them the opportunity to learn a new skill and meet new people who, without speaking about it, understand exactly how they are feeling.

"The young people are given responsibilities on the sail, allowing them to build on their self-confidence."

'Inspirational work'

Double-Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson, who grew up and learned to sail in Scotland, is an ambassador for the charity.

She said: "I have always been a strong advocate of the fact that the sailing trips put on by the trust benefits young people from all over the UK, including over 40 young Scottish people to date.

"A hub in Scotland will ensure that the trust will be increasingly accessible, further allowing even more Scottish young people in recovery from cancer to experience the benefits from the inspirational work that the charity undertakes."

Dame Ellen decided to launch the cancer trust after she spent some time with a similar organisation in France. It now works with every primary treatment centre in the UK.

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