Monday, 11 May 2009

Dame Ellen MacArthur in Dover

On Saturday 9th of May, Ellen gave a talk in the Ark Centre in Dover. It was a lovely light venue with cleverly arranged seating so we all had a good view. Ellen came on stage after a jolly introduction and a short film and it was immediately clear that the Ellen we knew from a few years ago was still the bighearted, natural, warm person she always has been towards everyone. This is an achievement in itself, as she told us in her talk, she never set out to become famous, just to sail, and it came as quite a shock to find herself unable to even walk over the street without being recognised. I can imagine, this must be really hard, but Ellen would not be Ellen if she had not coped with this remarkably well and is using her celebrity status to help and support others. Her talk was totally inspirational,not only to me, but to a great many people in the audience I spoke to afterwards. Ellen was the star and a very brightly shining one, which sparked off to inspire all in the audience. She was also available afterwards and had for everyone a kind word, an autograph or had her photo taken.


Ellen on stage at the beginning of her talk. The image is slightly blurred as it was too dark for photography without flash, but as I know how irritating it is if everybody keeps flashing whilst you are trying to give a talk, I did not want to use flash, so you will have to do with blurry....

She told us there had been three defining moments in her life, and illustrated each with anecdotes and lovely slides of what she was talking about. The first moment was her realisation she wanted to sail. She set out to explain how and why this happened and what her feelings about it were. Not being a celebrity, as I said earlier, but the sailing itself and all this entails.

The second moment was when she was invited to go sailing with the French organisation 'A chacun son cap'. This French charity does exactly what the Ellen MacArthur Trust does here in Britain now. Ellen was very impressed with the children and their tenacity and ability to cope with their illness. She thought this must happen in Britain too and the Trust was born.

The third moment came when she went to South Georgia to help monitor the wildlife and the albatros there. Nature and animals were breathtaking, and if she had already thought about the earth, and how small it actually is, and how we are dailing wasting huge resources (by leaving taps open, equipment on standby, use more kitchen towel than we actually need etc) and using oil like there is no tomorrow, she now realized in South Georgia, that if we do not collectively do something, we will soon have no albatros to enjoy, no wonderful unpoluted nature left.....

She showed us amazing slides and told wonderful stories of her time there and it felt like having been there. We all came away inspired and overawed but happy and full of hope.

Let's all join Ellen (and the millions of people who are allready doing this of course!) in her quest to all conserve energy, not to waste, and preserve wonderful wildlife like the albatros in places like South Georgia. And of course in supporting the Trust and buying a mile !

A book is being written as we speak but it might not be in the shops this year as Ellen is busy giving her talks and working for the Trust. If you can, go along and see her speak. All proceeds to the Trust and a wonderful afternoon and huge inspiration for you into the bargain.

Thank you Ellen. I had a wonderful afternoon !

Ellen talking to a young fan.

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