Making a splash for cancer aid

SAIL AWAY: Leonie's boat sets sail from Southampton.
SAIL AWAY: Leonie's boat sets sail from Southampton.
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LEONIE Sutherland has swapped her Hartshead home for an 11-month round the world voyage to raise money for a cancer charity.

Leonie, 24, is taking part in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race on a boat sponsored by Welcome to Yorkshire.

Left: Leonie before her adventure.

Left: Leonie before her adventure.

She was inspired by the strength of character of a schoolfriend who battled and defeated cancer.

Despite never sailing before, decided to take part in the race to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

The race, which started in Southampton on Sunday, will take Leonie thousands of miles round the globe.

She will be completing two legs of the tour, which is split into eight sections and competitors can take part in any number.

Her first port of call is Madeira, where she should be arriving on Sunday.

After that the team of 18 people will set off to Rio de Janeiro, which will take four weeks.

Then they will take a week’s rest before setting off to Capetown, which should take three weeks.

Her dad, Steve, said Leonie had suggested he should take part in the race, but decided to do it herself.

He said: “When she was pitching it to me I could see in her face she was thinking it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Steve said Leonie had given up her job in the legal profession to take part in the race and had been training hard for many months.

He said: “On the boat there is a farmer, a scaffolder, a paramedic, a law partner and someone who runs a health food shop.

“It’s a stripped down racing boat and there are no cabins. They have to get on with each other.”

The boat was stacked full of products from Yorkshire companies as it set sail so the competitors could celebrate Yorkshire Day on Monday.

Steve and wife Susan waved Leonie off.

He said: “HMS Illustrious provided the escort to the start line.

“The sea was heaving with support craft and the sky buzzed with helicopters.

“I have never seen anything like it in my life.

“The spectacle coupled with the emotion of waving our loved ones off on this great adventure simply drained us.

“Leonie has already raised just short of £8,000. We are hoping we can get it as close to £10,000 as possible. I’m very proud of her.”

To sponsor Leonie, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/giving and search Leonie Sutherland.