A YOUNG sailor from Bournemouth, who suffered a brain injury and was told he might never sail again, is back on the water and now training to become an instructor.

Will Sears, who attends Twynham School, is a keen sailor and Sea Scout, but suffered a haemorrhagic stroke in 2019 whilst on holiday in France, which left him subject to epileptic seizures despite all the best care from Great Ormond Street Hospital.

With the help of his Roald Dahl nurse Kat Bottle and his mother Cherie, Will was able to achieve his dream of crewing on a Tall Ship for six days through the Tall Ships Youth Trust.

Cherie Sears, Will’s mum, said: “Will has always dreamed about sailing a Tall Ship and with the help of his nurse, we were able to approach Tall Ships Youth Trust.

"After some toing and froing with consultations, risk assessments and interviews, Tall Ships were keen to be inclusive and we were able to secure an adventure just weeks before his surgery.

“He had an absolute blast and managed to achieve his RYA Competent Crew. Even more amazing, they thought he was so great they offered him the opportunity to train as a watch keeper and work with other young people teaching them to sail.”

The 15-year-old has to have potentially life changing brain surgery at Great Ormond St Hospital this week but has said that he will continue his sailing career.

Bournemouth Echo:

Unavoidably delayed by a year due to Covid, Will is finally having surgery to remove two legions from deep inside the left-hand side of his brain.

To do this, they are temporarily removing part of his skull from his neck to his ear.

It is a very serious operation and not without it's risks. He will require lots of support and intervention to recover.

However, leaving them alone was not an option either as a further haemorrhagic stroke could be totally debilitating and, in a few cases, fatal.

Cherie added: “Will is both nervous and excited. He has waited so long and just wants to get it over and done with and get back on the water.

“He loves the team at Great Ormond St and we're lucky enough to have an amazing surgeon, Chief of Service and Honorary Professor at UCL.

“Coupled with the support of our Roald Dahl Nurse, Kat and the Cavernoma Alliance, we're in the best hands.”

Having been revealed as the winner of accorded the Rotary International Young Citizens Sport Hero Award in 2020, Will was unable to receive his award due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Bournemouth Echo: Will Sears receiving his Rotary International Young Citizens Sport Hero Award from Paul Mills, Chair of the Christchurch Rotary Youth Committee outside Twynham School

The Christchurch pupil was finally presented with the award by Paul Mills, Chair of the Christchurch Rotary Youth Committee.

"Sadly, Covid put pay to the presentation at the National Conference and he didn't get to meet the celebrities," said Cherie.

“But he instead Will chose to donate his award money to the people who were instrumental in supporting him in his sailing from start and all the way through his ill health. Half went to Mudeford Sea Scouts and the other to the youth funds at Christchurch Sailing Club.

“Both have been amazingly inclusive. In an environment that could easily have said no, both organisations challenged the norm and challenged others to do the same.”

Mr Mills from Christchurch Rotary added: “Will has refused to be defined or limited by his medical condition, and through his actions has made people re-think what is possible.

“He has set a wonderful example and is continuing to help others despite his own continuing need for treatment.

“I have been delighted to recognise his achievement by presenting him with this National Rotary Award.”