UEA student named volunteer of the year for cancer charity
PUBLISHED: 12:26 05 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:26 05 March 2019
Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust
"She is an inspiration to the young people who surround her."
This is just one of the glowing testimonials which has seen a University of East Anglia student named the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust’s 2018 volunteer of the year.
Rosa Coker-Burnett, was presented with the trust’s treasured Luke Gilbert volunteer of the year award in recognition of the difference the 23-year-old has made to so many young people in recovery from cancer
Rosa was treated for acute myeloid leukemia as a child at Sheffield Children’s Hospital and, in 2009 aged 13, attended her first trust sailing trip on the Isle of Wight.
She returned for sailing and other adventure trips every year until she was 18, and having rediscovered the confidence to positively embrace her own future through the trust, started volunteering to inspire other young people like her.
This summer signals Rosa’s 10th anniversary with the trust, and she will mark it by volunteering on two trips, including the trust’s first residential week at the Hollowford Centre in Castleton.
Rosa, who is studying for a masters in international security at UEA, admitted being “very, very surprised” to receive this year’s award.
She said: “The trust gave me the confidence to do things by myself and believe it will be okay. The me on my first trip definitely wouldn’t recognise me now. I was very quiet and tomboyish and I didn’t know who I should be mixing with. I’d spent so long with adults in hospital I wasn’t sure why I should hang around with other people my age.
“At secondary school, I wouldn’t go to parties as I was really nervous about being around that many people and the logistics made it too stressful, whereas now I can do it. I’ve gone to university four and a half hours away from home in a brand new city with brand new people and I’ve shown I can make a go of it and enjoy it.
“Hopefully now I show other young people they can go on and do things they want to too. I’m definitely not the best sailor, but I can show them you don’t have to be, it’s about making them feel they can do things they didn’t think they could, having fun, talking to people and going away with a lot of new friends and smiles.”
Rosa was nominated by young people, other volunteers, and trust staff.
Rosa added: “I get loads of satisfaction seeing young people achieve the smallest things. For so many it’s a big step to do things for themselves again and it starts with the small things, even like chopping vegetables or taking control of the wheel for the first time. Seeing their faces light up when they say to their parents ‘I was in charge of the boat’ or ‘look at this picture where I’m doing this’ is a huge thing.”