a young cancer survivor who is sailing solo around the coast of Britain made a stop in Stonehaven last week.
Olly Rofix (26), who is from Suffolk, was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of lukaemia at the age of 20, and underwent a bone marrow transplant two days after his 21st birthday.
Speaking to the Leader, he said: “I was told that I was only the third person in the world who had been officially diagnosed with this type of lukaemia, and the other two hadn’t survived.
“My only hope of survival was a bone marrow transplant, so I turned to the Anthony Nolan Trust. Of nine million people on the bone marrow donation register, I found two possible matches, and luckily the transplant was a success.”
Olly marked five years clear of cancer on March 27, and the very next day he set off from London on his voyage on his 18ft yacht, the Jolly Olly.
The small vessel was an unseaworthy shell in need of a lot of TLC when Olly bought it soon after his diagnosis, but he poured his heart and soul - as well as his life savings - into its renovation as a distraction.
He said: “I bought the boat to give me something positive to focus on throughout my treatment. The goal of seeing the finished boat really kept me going.
“Cancer affects you in a lot of ways, and it makes you realise how precious life is. So, about 18 months ago I decided that, once I received my five year “all clear”, I would do something worhtwhile to give something back.
“I am aiming to raise awareness, funds and to recruit new donors for Anthony Nolan, because without them I wouldn’t be here.
“But mostly I want to tell people my story, and inspire others who may be going through what I have been through.”
While Olly navigates his way around the UK coast, taking an anti-clockwise route up the East coast and down the West Coast back to the south of England, he is faced with the equally tough challenges brought on by his illness, the main side effect of which is chronic tiredness.
He said: “It;s been good fun, but it has been harder than I expected. I get tired very quickly, so it’s about managing my tiredness. I can average around six hours of sailing a day, but I have been really pushing to get to Stonehaven this quickly. Once I get to Inverness I intend to slow down my pace a little and take my time.”
Another challenge facing Olly is securing much-needed hard cash sponsorship, more so after he expereinced engine problems and has had to fork out for a new heater for his boat.
Olly is in desperate need of sponsorship to get him through the rest of his voyage, which he expects will last until November.
He said: “I am literally relying on a donation bucket at the moment, and hoping that people will take an interest in my story.”
To find out more about Olly and his challenge, visit www.olivers-travels.co.uk.