Andy Jackson
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Teenage leukaemia survivor completes sailing challenge with Dame Ellen MacArthur

Andy Jackson
Posted by
20 Jun 2013

Teenage leukaemia survivor Joe Smale competed alongside round-the-world heroine Dame Ellen MacCarthur last weekend in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round The Island Race.

15 year old Joe, who managed to beat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia on three separate occasions before undergoing a life-saving bone marrow transplant in 2011, was one of 25 youngsters from the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust to take part in the 50 nautical mile course around the Isle of Wight.

Joe with the Olympic Torch after completing his leg of the relay

Joe held his own in the 16,000 strong field which included the four-time Olympic Champion Sir Ben Ainslie in the race’s 76th running, inspiring Dame Ellen with his bravery and courage. Speaking to the Houslow, Heston & Whitton Chronicle after the event, Dame Ellen said:

Joe is an amazing young person. He is the epitome of courage. To go through what he has done and have the smile that he has is just absolutely extraordinary. We just wanted him to have a good time and gain some confidence and enjoyment from it.

Some come back because they love sailing, some come back because they want to see some of their friends and some want to catch up with people who have been through similar illnesses.

There is the most incredible bond formed on the boat. These young people have all been through similar experiences so they just understand each other, and that happens so rarely in their lives.

Joe, himself, thoroughly enjoyed the event, admitting that prior to his involvement with the Trust he had no knowledge of sailing and never dreamed that he would be able to complete the challenge.

Before this I had absolutely no sailing experience,” he said. “It is quite a challenge, especially when you don’t have a lot of experience, but it’s great to meet new people and work as a team, and you do get more confidence. Ellen was telling us all her stories about how she sailed around the world and met all these kids, and I just feel lucky to be a part of that.

Involvement in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race rounds off an incredible twelve months for Joe, who, after being given the honour of carrying the Olympic Torch last year, has also just celebrated his second anniversary of being in remission.

Joe and his family have so far raised around £30,000 for Leukaemia and Lymphoma research, taking part in the London Bikeathon and other events.

Read Joe's amazing patient story

You can also watch a video of Joe carrying the torch here.