Seven super sailors took to the seas recently with Ocean Youth Trust – spending five days learning the ropes and sails and everything in-between that goes into sailing.

The group, who are all siblings of children supported by Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, were joined on their adventure by Helena, part of the Care Team at Christopher’s, our Guildford hospice, and Megan, Care Team Administrator at our Hampton hospice, Shooting Star House.

Setting off from Southampton on a boat called the Prolific, it was all hands on deck – quite literally as the group helped the eight sea staff on board to sail  to Cowes in the Isle of Wight.

“We learnt how to tie knots and pull the sails up and down and really got stuck in with the sailing,” explains Megan. “We were split into two watches and each watch had different jobs at different points of the voyage.”

Due to the changeable British weather the group had to spend a whole day on shore in Cowes, but they made the most of their time, playing games and exploring Cowes. There was even a dinghy race and a chance to get creative and dress up as pirates! Arrrr!

It wasn’t all fun and games though, as the group rolled up their sleeves and took on the important jobs that needed to be done on the boat, including cleaning and cooking the meals. Megan explained, “There was a cooking rota and an hour a day, nicknamed ‘happy hour’, spent cleaning the boat, including the toilets – which some enjoyed more than others!”

The group had to work closely as a team – taking on the big responsibilities that go into sailing. “One evening we did a night sail which involved each watch having a stint navigating the boat. Everyone had an opportunity to steer the boat during the week, and we also got to go on the bowsprit at the front of the boat when we were sailing,” said Megan.

Evenings were a chance for the group to chill out – passing the time playing cards or watching a film before getting a well deserved good nights sleep.

Some feedback from the siblings and their families include:
Thank you so much. My son really learnt a lot, made friends and had fun. I’m pleased to report that he now cleans the toilet at home. Thank you so much for giving him the opportunity to go sailing.”

“Our son had an amazing time with the Ocean Youth Trust, sailing with you all and the other teenagers. He made some good friends and when we asked him how it was he said ‘It was the best week of my life.’ We can’t thank Shooting Star Children’s Hospices and Ocean Youth Trust enough for a truly amazing experience.”

Siblings of children who have life-limiting conditions can often feel alone and isolated and the ongoing emotional impact of uncertainty and worry can have a real affect on their wellbeing. Shooting Star Children’s Hospices siblings’ days, events and trips away are therefore very important to allow siblings a chance to have a break, some independence and  fun with those in similar circumstances and lets them explore their own interests and express themselves in a variety of ways.

A huge thank you must go to all those involved to make such an amazing opportunity happen.

We run groups for siblings of children with life-limiting conditions and bereaved siblings of all ages. Find out more about the support we offer here.