A 20-year-old from Widnes, who is living through and beyond cancer, admits he feels more confident in day to day life after enjoying five days sailing with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.

Matthew Isherwood was 14 when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. He first sailed with the trust, set up by the inspirational sailor, in 2019.

He said: “I remember on my first trip I was too afraid to go up the front of the boat. I brought my walking stick, and it wasn’t the best.

"Now I just skip across. My confidence and my balance have developed, I’m more sure-footed. To go from being in a wheelchair to doing this is amazing.”

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust inspires young people aged 8-24 to believe in a brighter future living through and beyond cancer. For many young people, picking up where they left off before their diagnosis isn’t possible. So, when treatment ends, the Trust’s work begins.

Matthew, who joined on the trip in Largs, said: “The sailing is relaxing, but the socialising part is what I come for. After each trip, I feel more confident in day to day life, I look forward to the next one. Because of coming sailing with the trust, I became a mentor as part of CHICS and Young Lives vs Cancer’s group at Alder Hey, as part of the social club.

"I wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t come here.”

Through the tTrust’s sailing and outdoor activities, young people meet others who have had similar experiences - often for the first time, rediscover independence away from home, experience an increased sense of purpose and self-worth, and begin to realise what they are capable of again. Most importantly they stop feeling like the ‘only one’.

The young people are inspired to believe in a brighter future as they feel accepted, independent, and optimistic. They can start to re-establish their place in the world by getting back into education or employment and reconnecting with their friends and families.