Brave Annaliese enjoys sailing trip of a lifetime

Annaliese Laffan who took part in an inspirational sailing trip with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.
Annaliese Laffan who took part in an inspirational sailing trip with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.

A young cancer survivor from Ballymena has taken part in an inspirational sailing trip with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.

Twenty-one-year-old Annaliese Laffan joined a group of other young people in recovery from cancer on the four day yacht adventure on the Firth of Clyde.

For Annaliese, who finished cancer treatment in March for Papillary Thyroid Cancer at Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, this was her first time sailing with the Trust.

She said: “I’ve never sailed before, but it was brilliant.

“I thought it would be all about the sailing, but we had lots of BBQs, played lots of different fun games, had chats in the cabins, played card games, danced, and generally just had a good laugh.”

Annaliese added: “The whole experience really helped me, and I’m sad it’s over.

“There’s always someone to talk to who has been through the same, and I’ve met loads of people who want to keep in touch with or ask if we can be together next year.”

The Trust trips run throughout the summer each year from bases in Largs, Scotland and Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, where the young people on-board are encouraged to work as a team and get involved in everything from helming the boat to cooking.

This trip allowed Annaliese to put her new skills to the test, navigating the Firth of Clyde to take in the beautiful scenery of the East Coast of Scotland.

The aim of the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is to give young people in recovery from cancer the chance to rebuild their confidence through sailing.

The Trust receives no government funding and therefore relies entirely on voluntary donations to provide sailing trips free of charge to the young people.

Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have also proved integral, allowing the Trust to build crucial long term relationships, inviting young people such as Annaliese to join ‘Return to Sail’ trips for years to come, providing support as long as it is needed.

Dame Ellen, who 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.”