At 21, Claire Amaladoss is the youngest trustee of the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. Founded by the eponymous sailor, the charity provides sailing opportunities for young people aged between eight and 24 who are recovering from cancer.
Amaladoss first sailed with the charity after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma at 14. Four years after that she began volunteering with the charity and was then asked to be co-founder of the charity's youth board. "As chair of that board, I was thinking about how the trust could expand while maintaining an intimate family feel," she says.
The charity decided that its main board should include a young person who had benefited from its work, and she was brought in. "My role is, broadly, to act as a bridge to the youth board, raising issues that might not occur to the main board, such as how we make the parents of the youngsters feel at ease – because being on a boat after the bubble of being in hospital is quite a change. I suggested that we get doctors to advise parents."
Amaladoss says the other trustees have encouraged her not to be reticent and to listen to others' ideas, and she has been impressed with the level of thought the charity puts into its decision-making. "Even before I joined, the trustees made decisions based on the needs of stakeholders," she says.
There is a dearth of people of her age on boards, she says, but charities should think progressively and attract younger people as trustees. "Many will already be volunteering and will be keen to take the next step," she says.
Amaladoss is reading development studies at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies. "I'm one of those people who functions better when they are busy," she says. "It's good to have something other than study to focus on."