Royal Navy help teenager fulfil her dream

When teenager Laura Nuttall was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, the Royal Navy reservist hopeful thought her chance of piloting a ship was impossible.

The 19-year-old had hoped to join the Kings College University Royal Navy Unit (URNU) when she was told the devastating news of her condition.

With treatment needing to start immediately, Laura had to leave university and with it, the chance of joining the unit.

But when her mum Nicola contacted the Royal Navy and explained her story, Naval Regional Headquarters Northern England at HMS Eaglet stepped up and arranged for Laura and her family to spend the day on board HMS Charger.

Boarding in Liverpool, Laura, dressed in full Royal Navy gear, her parents Nicola and Mark, younger sister Gracie and grandad David Anson sailed up the River Mersey and the canals to Manchester.

It is something I never thought I’d get the opportunity to do

Laura Nuttall

Charger’s commanding officer Lieutenant Paul Harsent gave Laura the wheel and let her helm the P2000 through the waterways.

Laura, from Barrowford in Lancashire, said: “It has been an amazing day. It has allowed me to do the things I would have got to do had I joined the URNU.

“I never got as far as to getting out on a ship so to spend the day on HMS Charger has been amazing. It is something I never thought I’d get the opportunity to do.

“Everyone has been really lovely and really helpful. Learning how to the pilot the ship and navigate was so much fun – it was definitely the highlight of the day.”

Laura was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme, aggressive stage-four brain cancer, last year after a routine medical to join Kings College URNU showed abnormalities behind her eyes.

She was referred to an eye hospital, and then a neurologist who discovered six brain tumours. Pathology results revealed the tumours were cancerous and inoperable.

Since then, Laura has undergone chemotherapy and radiotherapy. While going through her treatment she drew up a bucket list and has so far been invited to watch Everton play and meet club and England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, saw Sir Paul McCartney perform at the Echo Arena and now, crewed a Royal Navy ship.

Lt Harsent said: “It was great to invite Laura and her family on board and help her tick something off her bucket list.

“We wanted her to experience what it’s like on a P2000 and part of that is piloting the ship. She did a really good job and seemed interested in what it takes and the way to do it.

“Hopefully she enjoyed the day and a small taste of Royal Navy life.”

Before the family left HMS Charger, Lt Harsent presented Laura with the ship’s crest and a HMS Charger cap tally.

Nicola added: “The Royal Navy team who helped organise the day were brilliant. To experience this as a family was incredible.”