Sail 4 Cancer – not just for sailors!

Sail4Cancer Thames

Charity Sail 4 Cancer  are a specialist respite provider, funding day trips and short-breaks for British families affected by cancer. They’ve recently piloted a couple of inland boating experiences with the help of The National Community Boats Association.

They approached the NCBA at our AGM last year, but discovering the large and varied membership found it difficult to know where to start in finding which organisations could best help them. The business of Sail 4 Cancer is to raise money to provide respite for children, young people and families living with cancer.

In the past they have done this by sending the young people sailing. They go in pairs, one with cancer, and the other a friend or a sibling. However, the minimum age for sailing is 14 and they were looking for something similar for the 11 to 14 year age range. With the sailing and now with the NCBA they were looking for a package deal consisting of boating together with youth leadership.

The NCBA asked Paul Treble if he could set up a couple of pilot weekends.

“First I talked with Cathy Jenkins at Sail 4 Cancer and produced a specification of what was needed. I then contacted all the NCBA members who had expressed an interest to get an initial idea of which projects were able to meet the specification.

After consulting James and Trevor I chose three to quote against the specification. I then offered three possibilities to Sail 4 Cancer at a standard price which included a margin to cover NCBA costs. They took two and the pilot trips ran on the River Thames last October and on the Staffs and Worcs canal near Wolverhampton in May.”

On the Thames trip the crew were divided into “galley slaves” and “deck crew” (taking turns at each). While the deck crew learned to handle ropes, fenders, locks and steering, the galley crew’s activities included making flapjacks, making a hat for the skipper, and making a stills film.

At the end of the day the crew were asked, if you had the opportunity would you come boating again? The response was an enthusiastic and unanimous ‘yes!’

The Wolverhampton trip in May benefitted from perfect weather. As well as boat handling and locking the young people enjoyed making flowers and butterflies from icing sugar, making toffee apples, and they chose trips to the cinema and a clock golf course. Paul asked them what they liked about the trip. The answers were ‘getting to know new people’, ‘crewing’ and ‘off boat activities’.

Cathy Jenkins at Sail 4 Cancer said,

“My initial feedback from the youngsters and parents is excellent. These weekends are so well thought out and yet still appear relaxed…

I just wanted to say a huge thank you from me and all the parents … for giving the youngsters such a fantastic time and to Paul Treble for researching it all so well and finding two excellent organisations to take our youngsters away from the day to day problems they have living with cancer. It gives these kids a huge confidence boost. Well done.”

And from the young people,

“Me and my sister think that it was really fun to meet other people and make friends with them. It was really fun watching the movie Iron Man 3.The food was delicious and nice we also enjoyed steering the boat because we have never been on one before. The crew was nice and kind especially Bob who made us all laugh and smile the whole way.”

The NCBA hope that this scheme will continue and even expand. So if your organisation would like to arrange similar activities in your local area please do contact us.


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