Theresia Cadwallader

Theresia Takes to The Sea - Clipper Round The World Yacht Race 2019-20

Fundraising for Leeds Hospitals Charity
raised of £30,000 target
by 49 supporters
We support Leeds Teaching Hospitals staff to deliver the best care for our patients


Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page.

My name's Theresia. I'm embarking on an ocean race to fundraise for the Neuro Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ward L06 at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) who, 9 years ago in 2010, saved our son's life. Having spoken with the neuro ICU team, I want to help them buy the equipment they need to save even more lives. You can help by making donations on this page.

The target is £30,000 - to buy an Ultrasound System for cranial monitoring.

It’s a lot of money, but with your help I think we can make it. 

So what am I doing and why am I doing it?

I am a jeweller, former civil engineer and mother. I don’t have a lot of sailing experience, but I have been accepted to crew a 70-foot racing yacht to sail from Australia to China on Leg 5 of the 2019-20 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Starting in January 2020, I will be at sea for approximately 37 days covering a distance of about 5700 nautical miles.

I am doing it because our son, who loved sailing, suffered a very severe traumatic brain injury in Leeds in 2010. He was lucky to be treated at the neuro ICU at the LGI and they saved his life through their dedication, skill, hard work and willingness to think outside the box. He was very ill and had to stay in their care for 6 weeks until he was stable enough to move to other units - the ward was our home too for those 6 weeks. After 8 months in hospital, he underwent 5 years’ intensive rehabilitation. He is still improving.

One of the reasons I am doing the Clipper Race is that I hope I can put the skills I gain to use in getting my son sailing again. And I need a break from helping look after his recovery!

That winter on the ICU was one of the worst we ever experienced - but the team was fantastic. Leeds was snowed under but the nurses stayed beyond their shifts until the relief shift came; some walked for over 2 hours through the snow to get there. They looked after our son, and they looked after us too, they rode the highs and lows with us throughout. They were so skilful and used such enormous creativity in saving his life and stabilising him. They were utterly dedicated.

By fundraising for them I hope to give them what they need to carry out even more incredible work. It’s also my thank you to them for saving our son’s life. Through this, I hope more lives can be saved.

To our family and friends who have supported us before, to new friends, and everyone, can I ask once again if you could help me to help LGI Neuro ICU to save more lives through your generous donations. You never know when you or people you know will need their help.

UPDATE: I arrived home mid-March 2020 after my sailing adventures, just before UK lockdown. 

As for my story, what a different world I return to. When I left in early January 2020 we were very concerned about the bush fire in Australia. Staying in Sydney with friends, we could smell smoke in the house and the sky was so hazy we couldn’t see  beyond our street.

When I arrived in Airlie Beach, it was a different story. It was lush green, blue sky, the water was clear, no smell of smoke, just incredibly hot! 

Our race from Airlie Beach started on 20th January 2020, delayed by two days because the our water maker needed replacing. Thank goodness it was, as the temperature at sea was around 48 degrees, with very little wind to begin with. Limited drinking water would’ve been unbearable.

The experience at sea was beyond anything I’d ever experienced before: incredibly tough, totally exhausting, full of laughter and completely exhilarating. 

I’ve crossed the equator, got stuck in windholes with a wind speed 0.0 knots, and raced away at 43 knots.  We experienced some hairy moments but whatever we faced, we tackled it well and with good spirits. Cooking (luckily we took turns in this duty) and living at a 40 degree angle was pretty challenging, and required strength, and we did it. I had a wonderful group of mates and an excellent Skipper too. We saw wild life, including whales, dolphins, flying fish, flying tunas, mahimahi fish, sea birds, skuas and small birds. We came across big cargo vessels and tiny fishing boats as we got close to Luzon. The Milky Way greeted us most nights, we watched the moon rise and sunrise, but we also had nights so dark we couldn’t see the edge of the sails nor the fore sails from the cockpit! I learnt to helm at night and I also learnt to helm with the spinnaker flying too. The lightning all around us - literally 360 degrees - was spectacular! 

Leg 5 races were planned to be Airlie Beach, Australia to Sanya, China; Sanya to Subic Bay, the Philippines; Subic Bay to Zhuhai, China. 

But unbeknownst to us onboard, the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading. Less than a week after we set sail, our first destination of Sanya, China, was cancelled and we were told to sail North with no destination. It added to the sense of adventure, as we knew we were in safe hands. A week before we had been due into Sanya, our next destination was revealed: we were going straight to Subic Bay.

On arrival, we stayed in port for 9 days, again not knowing where the next race would take us. Due to the pandemic, and having to change plans very quickly, the next race destination was a loop of the Nansei Islands, Japan, returning to Subic Bay. Race 8 was cancelled, and soon after the whole Round the World Race was postponed to next year - the yachts are waiting in Subic Bay. 

I’m happy with what I’ve done and I’m very grateful to have had this experience. What impressed me most was how well we all coped with the unknown situation. We kept each other going. I’m looking forward to when I might be able to go sailing again and bring my son.

Any donations to help me reach my fundraising target for Leeds General Infirmary would be gratefully received. 

About the charity

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