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How being a Young Ambassador changed my life!

Rebecca Taylor, a Young Ambassador from 2021-23, shares her experience of being a Young Ambassador for The Brain Tumour Charity.

As the title says, being a Young Ambassador has absolutely changed my life (and I encourage you to read on to find out how)! But taking a few steps back, you may be wondering what Young Ambassador is?

What is a Young Ambassador and what does it mean to me?

Broadly speaking, The Young Ambassadors are a group of volunteers aged 18-25 who’ve all been personally affected by a brain tumour diagnosis. They play an important role in The Charity’s work, but being a Young Ambassador is also a great chance to learn and develop new skills. It’s also an opportunity to meet people our own age who’ve been through similar experiences.

Being a Young Ambassador is different for everyone, but for me it’s been about becoming a young voice for The Brain Tumour Charity. I’ve been able to use my experiences to help raise funds and spread awareness of the signs and symptoms of brain tumours – and the impact they have.

But it goes far beyond volunteering. The other Young Ambassadors in my cohort have become more than new life-long friends, they’re like an extended family. We’re always there at the end of the phone for a quick catch up, forever supportive of each other’s struggles and accomplishments alike.

The Charity has also given a phenomenal amount back to us. From offering opportunities to grow our skills and confidence to bringing together an amazing community of likeminded people – all united around the same cause.

Why did I become a Young Ambassador?

I was diagnosed with a brain tumour aged 14 and I became a Young Ambassador in my 20s.

Being a young teenager just about to start my A-Levels, a brain tumour diagnosis was a pretty lonely and scary thing to go through. And recovery alongside ongoing chronic health challenges didn’t make it an easy ride.

I’d never knowingly met someone else my own age who also had a diagnosis or truly understood the impact of a brain tumour, until I found the Young Ambassador programme.

I applied because I was so excited to meet a group of people who just ‘get it’ – completely non-judgmental, hugely understanding and so supportive. And I really wanted to help other young people have a better experience of going through a similar diagnosis to mine.

The Young Ambassador programme boasted (in a good way!) a lot of exciting opportunities to get involved with The Charity’s work. I knew that as the programme was run by The Brain Tumour Charity there would be no barriers to getting involved when it came to accessibility.

That first application was definitely daunting, but everyone I met from The Charity was so welcoming and friendly. Applying was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

What does an average month look like as a Young Ambassador for The Brain Tumour Charity?

Everyone’s experience as a Young Ambassador can look completely different, as it’s up to you how much you want to get involved with.

I’m the sort of person that says ‘yes!’ to as much as I can – so I’ve done so many different things throughout my time as a Young Ambassador.

Every month we virtually meet as a group to share updates and catch up. We also hear from lots of the different teams at The Charity to learn more about what they do and what opportunities there were to help support their work.

There are a variety of opportunities each month that we can choose to get involved in, both virtually and in person. For anything that we do need to travel to, we’re assisted with travel where needed – so there’s no stress to getting involved!

I’ve done a complete mixture of things in my time as a Young Ambassador, from sharing my story through press releases and speaking at events – including at The Charity’s inaugural TIME art exhibition and the annual British Neuro-oncological Society conference. I’ve also fundraised through The Twilight Walk and much more.

I was also on the Steering Committee helping guide the shape of The Charity’s new strategy. As part of this, taking part in the ‘What If’ workshop has been one of many highlights of my time as a Young Ambassador. This was where members of the brain tumour community came together in London to imagine what support for those affected by brain tumours would look like without any constraints – whether that’s money, time or resources.

Our cohort of Young Ambassadors (2021-2023) have cumulatively fundraised over £26,000! I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved!

My highlight of being a Young Ambassador

As I’ve mentioned, being a Young Ambassador has been absolutely life changing. I’ve been able to get involved in such exciting experiences, met some truly inspirational people and made absolute friends for life.

We’re all part of a club we’d never have chosen to join, but it’s made us the strongest of friends who are so supportive of each other.

Picking just one highlight is nearly impossible, but one of the best moments for me has to be our Young Ambassador residential trip to a (very rainy!) outdoor adventure centre for the weekend.

We all really pushed our limits trying activities from archery to braving the zip wire (which we all ended up having a few goes on – in the end!) and I’ll never forget toasting marshmallows in the absolute pouring rain over a campfire. It was a full on, emotional trip, but it was one of the best experiences which I’m so grateful we got to all go on together.

What I’ve learned from being a Young Ambassador

I’ve really grown in confidence throughout my time here. Being a Young Ambassador has given me the confidence to know that I can do it – whatever ‘it’ may be!

I’ve had the opportunity to try out so many new experiences and learn lots of new skills. I’d never have expected to have discovered a passion for public speaking this time two years ago. Through being a Young Ambassador, I’ve really discovered my voice, so much to the extent that I’ve now even changed careers to one involving talking in front of big crowds!

It’s helped me turn a challenging experience into a really positive one and opened up a world of support. I couldn’t recommend becoming a Young Ambassador more to anyone considering it. It’s changed my life (in the best way!) and I’m sure it’ll do the same for you!

Interested in becoming a Young Ambassador?

Applications are now open for our 2024-2026 cohort of Young Ambassadors. If you’re aged 18-25 and have been affected by your own brain tumour diagnosis or a loved one has, why not find out what our Young Ambassador programme has to offer?