FOR the last eight years, the Youth Cancer Trust has played a vital part in Vicky Walsh’s life.

Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at the age of six, Vicky has spent years in and out of hospital as she fights the disease.

But when she first visited Tracy Ann House, YCT’s holiday home for young people with cancer, in 2001 she immediately felt at home.

Until recently, the charity only catered for 14 to 25-year-olds, so Vicky feared her visit last year would be her last.

But, following a research project which showed the 25 to 30 age group were in danger of becoming “a lost tribe”, founder Brenda Clark decided to take action and YCT increased the age range up to 30.

“Youngsters who had been enjoying a holiday at Tracy Ann House in the past were not able to come again once they reached the age of 25,” she explained.

“Following a research project we realised that the 25 to 30 age group were no longer able to join in with the younger services available for young people with cancer – put simply they were missing out.

“One of the very essences of the Youth Cancer Trust is to help reduce isolation amongst young people with cancer so, once we were given the go-ahead by the Charity Commission, we got in touch with all the youngsters who had stopped coming because they were too old.

“The response was amazing.”

Young people come from all over the UK and the Irish Republic to spend a holiday at Tracy Ann House, which is based in Alum Chine.

Vicky, a legal assistant who comes down regularly from Wakefield, was delighted at the change in policy.

“This visit was all the more special to me as I thought I wouldn’t be able to come again after my 25th birthday.”

She added: “By changing the age limit YCT has given me back some of the support that I had thought I’d lost for good.

“I joined the Adult Services from the Teenager and Young Adult Services around ten months ago and almost immediately realised that the support I’d received from my liaison nurse and social groups and simply the security of knowing that when you were ill the people who were looking after you were familiar faces, like old friends, was no longer there.

“Some of the people who looked after me I had known and trusted since I was first diagnosed and they had been there throughout my subsequent relapses at 10, 17 and 22. I felt very lost and alone. Once I got to 25 I was just another file to be got through.”

Kieran Stubbs is another regular at Tracy Ann House and has had some happy times there with his wife Kelly.

“We are really grateful to YCT for everything they’ve done for us,” said Kieran, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was 20 and told he only had ten years to live.

The 30-year-old, from Holbeach, Lincolnshire, added: “When we got married we couldn’t afford a honeymoon and YCT’s trustee Jan Roberts very kindly put us up in a hotel and paid for everything.

“Kelly and I love coming here and we’re so pleased we could come back again now the age range has increased. I was worried when I couldn’t come any more as I felt there was no support for me any more.

“I’ve been having epileptic fits and they think it might be due to the scarring on my brain. It’s so worrying, but having this holiday booked in has given us both something to look forward to and meeting up with our old friend Vicky has been great.”

Both Kieran and Vicky agree that being able to share their experiences in a relaxed environment is immensely helpful.

“It’s like an extended family,” said Vicky.

“People don’t stop being ill or needing places like this just because they’re 25. I have felt forgotten, but thankfully YCT has not forgotten me and I can keep coming for another four years.

“YCT has my utmost respect, love and admiration for who they are and what they do.”

  • To find out more about the Youth Cancer Trust, or how you can donate, call 01202 763591 or visit