Rob sets sail to find inspiration

Putting himself to the test: Rob Ayres at the helm of the yacht Moonspray during the adventure in The Solent
Putting himself to the test: Rob Ayres at the helm of the yacht Moonspray during the adventure in The Solent

Lewes man Rob Ayres has taken part in an inspirational sailing trip with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, along with 13 other young people between the age of 18 -24 in recovery from cancer.

He joined the crew of one of three yachts to sail around The Solent in a four-day yacht adventure.

Rob, 24, who is currently undergoing treatment for Pontine Piloaytic Astrocytoma at The Royal Marsden Hospital, was joined by four other young people on board their boat, Moonspray.

He said: “I was looking forward to the trip, but a little nervous as I didn’t know anyone. Once you got there it didn’t matter.”

Sailing onboard 42-48ft cruising yachts, the 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.

Rob continued: “The trip was really good, It wasn’t anywhere near as difficult as I thought it would be. We got out on the water a lot and learnt about sailing. The final day was pretty windy so flying along with the sails fully powered up was probably my favourite bit.”

Departing from their headquarters in East Cowes Marina, Isle of Wight, participants navigated the waters of The Solent, which took them to various stopovers including Yarmouth Harbour and the picturesque bay of Newtown Creek. Then they really put their new skills to the test in a stiff breeze back to Cowes.

Launched in 2003, 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. Rob said: “It has taught me I can do a lot more than I thought I could and I’ve met a lot of new people which has been really fun.”

Dame Ellen, who in 2005 broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe, tries to spend at least one day with every four-day trip over the summer.

She 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 11th year, the Trust has grown beyond every expectation into a national charity. It receives no government funding and does not charge fees and is therefore 100 per cent reliant on voluntary funding.

To become a Friend of the Trust and help them to continue to provide support and encouragement to young people in recovery from cancer visit