Ilkley man's joy at new role as charity ambassador

Luke at the helm and, above, in Jolly Roger hat

Luke at the helm and, above, in Jolly Roger hat

First published in News Ilkley Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A nationwide charity that sends young people recovering from cancer on confidence-building sailing trips has chosen an Ilkley man as an ambassador.

Luke Gilbert, 24, has been invited to become an ambassador for the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, serving in the three-year role alongside Radio 1 DJ Rob da Bank.

Mr Gilbert was diagnosed with cancer at Airedale Hospital in 2003 and referred to St James’s University Hospital in Leeds, where he was on Teenage Cancer Trust’s unit for the first three years.

He went on his first sailing trip with the Ellen MacArthur Trust in 2010 on a trip specifically for 18-24 year olds.

He returned to sail with the trust in 2011, undertaking volunteer training and competing in the challenging JP Morgan Round the Island Race, a 50 nautical mile yacht race around the Isle of Wight.

He completed his volunteer training this year, and helped out on several trust trips throughout summer, giving up his own holiday periods to volunteer.

Mr Gilbert said: “The trust means everything to me. From my first trip my confidence was boosted for the first time in years. Being around the amazing team behind the charity is inspirational to me.

“I can’t stop smiling around them, and after nine years of illness I have a happy outlook on life.”

He added: “Becoming an ambassador feels amazing. My main aim which has been foremost in my mind since first becoming a volunteer is to know I have helped someone with their own fight, through my experiences.

“If I have helped just one person it would be my greatest achievement in life”.

Launched in 2003 by Dame Ellen MacArthur, the trust helps young people rebuild their confidence and independence, giving back what is often lost through cancer treatment.

Trust chief executive officer Frank Fletcher said: “We are delighted that Luke is willing to become an ambassador for the trust.

“Having sailed with us and then returning as a volunteer he has experienced first-hand the work we do and understands what a difference it can make to young people recovering from cancer, which will make him an excellent ambassador.”

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