A Grove Park man whose confidence was stripped away by teenage leukaemia has conquered Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, in support of the charity that got him back on an even keel after cancer.

Now 26, Luke Richardson was 14 when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, which led to long periods of being very ill in hospital, missing school and not being able to do the things his friends were doing.

However, after sailing with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust - the national charity that works with young people aged eight to 24 to rebuild confidence after cancer through sailing – Luke was able to re-engage with life and is now even a father himself.

To help more young people going through similar experiences in recovery, Luke, his sister Nix, and mum Kimberley tackled the 1,345m (4,411ft) hike to the summit to fundraise for the trust.

But, despite a knee injury prematurely ending Kimberley’s climb after the trio had reached the pinnacle, Luke and Nix marched on to complete their Ben Nevis challenge, raising over £565.

Luke explained: “Being diagnosed was a very hard time for both me and my family. At such a young age it changed everything. Being in the bubble of cancer treatment strips away confidence for young people.

"The trust is an amazing charity that helped me through this difficult time in my life.

“The hospital staff introduced me to the trust when they realised I had an interest in sailing and it was the best thing they could have done for me.

“The young people on trust sailing trips are all going through the same thing and are in desperate need of some time out. The trips give young people permission to be well and normal again, giving them the chance to let go and just have fun. It made such a difference to my life.”

For many young people in recovery from cancer, the unseen mental and emotional after-effects are as difficult as the physical. Simply picking up where they left off before their diagnosis isn’t possible.

On trust trips, young people develop confidence by learning new skills, making friends, talking to others who have been through similar experiences, pushing physical boundaries, rediscovering their independence and no longer feeling like they are the only ones going through this.

This is why Luke returned to volunteer for the trust for a number of years, and why he wanted to give something back through fundraising now having a young family means his time is precious.

He added: “I’ve come out the other side and have children of my own, which back then I could not see happening. As a volunteer, I could help other young people going through what I had been through and now this is my way of giving a little back to make a difference to more young lives.”

Since its launch in 2003, the Trust has worked with over 1,900 young people in recovery, with more than 660 set to sail with the charity in its 15th anniversary year, either for the first time or returning to take part in one of the many sailing-based activities the trust now runs from its bases in Cowes on the Isle of Wight and Largs on Scotland’s West Coast.

But for every young person the trust currently supports, there are nine it can’t.

Support young people like Luke at www.ellenmacarthurcancertrust.org

Sent in by Ashton Howard