Brave George’s sailing challenge

George Carroll-Elks and Dame Ellen MacArthur.
George Carroll-Elks and Dame Ellen MacArthur.
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A teenager, recovering from leukaemia, has taken part in a once-in-a-lifetime sailing challenge with record breaker Ellen MacArthur.

George Carroll-Elks, 14, was picked, along with 26 other young people from across the UK in recovery from cancer and leukaemia, to take charge of yachts off the Isle of Wight.

The event was organised by The Ellen MacArthur Trust, which was set up by the Derbyshire-born yachtswoman to give unique and life-changing sailing experiences to brave youngsters like George.

The St John Houghton Catholic School pupil said: “I’ve never been sailing before so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

“But now I’m here I really want to go again – I wish the trip was longer.

“My favourite bit was when we were in the middle of the Solent, we pulled up by two other boats and had a massive water fight between them.”

George was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in May 2008 and finished treatment at Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, in September last year.

George was one of a handful of Erewash youngsters given a Young Achievers Award by Derbyshire County Council when he was 12 years old and was still suffering from the effects of the illness.

He was so ill that he could not make the awards ceremony in 2010.

He added after finishing the four-day sailing trip: “It’s the best thing I’ve done for ages”

Each young person is given the challenge to help sail the yachts and are encouraged to work as a team by getting involved in everything from helming the boat to cooking.

The four day sailing trip set sail from Cowes on the Isle of Wight on July 23.

Dame Ellen said: “These young people are truly amazing.

“They face experiences that no one should ever have to go through, and yet they do it with the biggest smile on their faces.

“They are truly inspiring.”