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Belfast Lough Teen Wins Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust T-Shirt Competition

4th November 2020
Alysia Rea at the helm during her Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust trip Alysia Rea at the helm during her Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust trip

A young Belfast Lough woman has been announced the winner of the national competition to design the official 2021 t-shirt for the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, the charity that has continued to support her during the pandemic.

Alysia, 20, has a disorder called Diamond Blackfan Anemia which affects bone marrow production of red blood cells. Diagnosed at 11, her teenage years were tough, missing school and rarely meeting anyone her age who was going through similar challenges.

That was until Alysia set sail on her first Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust trip in Largs back in 2018. Leaving her ‘own little bubble behind’ she finally met other young people who had experienced similar situations. For the first time, Alysia no longer felt alone. The instant bonds and friendships she created are what inspired her winning design.

Alysia Rea's winning Musto t-shirt designAlysia Rea's winning t-shirt design

Alysia explains: “You start the trip off as strangers and the next day you are all working as a team on the boat. The three hands in my design represent how the Trust brings people together. You become almost like a family on the trips.

“Through the trips, I have met some incredible friends, we all support each other on our own journeys and are able to talk about any worries we have with each other without fear of judgement.”

Despite not being able to run any trips this summer, Musto – the charity’s official clothing supplier since 2003 – still invited every young person to create a design that sums up the difference that the support of the Trust has made to them.

The competition was tight and some brilliant designs were submitted. But Alysia’s stood out, as it encompassed how the whole Trust community pulled together this year to offer young people a Virtual Summer Programme.

The words in her design capture the essence of the Trust and the togetherness of the community which has especially shone through this year.

Due to COVID, Alysia has been shielding. However, the support of the Trust’s Virtual Summer programme stopped her from feeling isolated. She said: “During these strange and uncertain times, it’s amazing to have this to bring a sense of normality back.

“I have missed out on a lot of social interactions. Getting involved in Virtual Summer has given me that much-needed escape from isolation.”

As the Trust starts looking ahead to 2021, it’s super exciting to see Alysia’s wonderful design come to life. We can’t wait to see the t-shirts in action on our trips next year.

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust was founded by the history-making yachtswoman in 2003. Since then, almost 2,500 young people have been supported in rebuilding their lives after cancer through sailing and adventure activities.

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

Email The Author

Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down.

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