Derbyshire volunteer wins award for supporting young people in recovery from cancer

Rosa Coker-Burnett, from Edale, being presented the award by Luke's mum Julie Gilbert.
Rosa Coker-Burnett, from Edale, being presented the award by Luke's mum Julie Gilbert.

An Edale woman hailed ‘an inspiration to young people’ has been 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 for making a difference to the lives of young people in recovery from cancer.

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is a national charity that supports young people aged 8-24 to rebuild their confidence after cancer.

Rosa was treated for acute myeloid leukaemia 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, 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 tenth 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, 23, who is studying for a Masters in International Security at the University of East Anglia, admitted she was “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 ok.”

The Luke Gilbert Volunteer of the Year Award was introduced three years ago in celebration of the trust’s legendary volunteer, who passed away in 2016.

Rosa was nominated by young people, other volunteers and trust staff, and presented with the award by Luke’s mum, Julie.

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.”