A SCHOOLBOY sailor will return to Hampshire today after becoming the youngest person to sail solo around Britain.

Timothy Long, 15, will be given a hero's welcome when he sails into Hamble Point Marina at the end of a 1,600-mile voyage that began more than two months ago.

But family, friends and fellow sailing enthusiasts will be stretched out along the foreshore to comply with social distancing guidelines.

New Forest Post:

Timothy has beaten the record set in 2011, when 17-year-old Tom Webb successfully completed a similar challenge.

During his voyage Timothy navigated across some of the trickiest waters in the UK. He also had to contend with Force 7 winds and 17 hours of thick fog in the Bristol Channel.

But he also experienced what he describes as wonderful moments of perfect sailing, plus magical sunsets and spectacular scenery.

Timothy, who lives in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, but is a member of Hythe Sailing Club, is raising funds for the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and has so far netted more than £5,800.

Dame Ellen: "It's an incredible achievement for anyone to sail single-handed around the UK but to do it at 15 really is something else.

New Forest Post:

"While Timothy will always have the personal satisfaction of that achievement, the legacy of what he’s done will be even more far-reaching in terms of helping to change the lives of young people in recovery from cancer.

"Young people are going to need the Trust more than ever after Covid-19.

"The pandemic has amplified the feelings of isolation, loneliness, anxiety, anger and fear experienced by young people undergoing cancer treatment and their families.

"I send Timothy my warmest congratulations and thank him on behalf of every young person the Trust supports.”

The teenager's mother, Sue, added: "Ellen has been Timothy’s greatest inspiration since he read her books when he was young.

New Forest Post:

"He found out about the Trust aged 12 and was so keen to do something to support the charity he wrote to ask whether he could volunteer on the boats."

Timothy emailed Dame Ellen and received a reply in which she gave him advice on how to get into junior sailing.

It was followed by a package containing a copy of Dame Ellen’s book, Full Circle, and a Trust baseball cap, both signed by her with the words “Go for it!”