IT was a far cry from the hospital berth he has become used to.

Hampshire teenager Alex Anderson was diagnosed with leukaemia in March 2008 and has been undergoing treatment since – but yesterday took to the Solent for a special day on the water with his family.

The 14-year-old got the chance to experience all the action from Cowes Week with his dad John, mum Carole and younger sister Katie onboard classic yacht Firebrand.

Carole said: “It was a really nice day and great to get to do something that we wouldn’t normally get to do.

“It means a lot to us to be able to do things like this as a family.

“We spent a lovely day watching the racing at Cowes and then sailing up and down the Solent.”

The yacht was leant to charity CLIC Sargent by top naval architect Ed Dubois, who became involved with the charity when his daughter Minna was diagnosed with cancer in July 2005.

Ed said: “We recognised how families can be devastated both emotionally and practically when their child is afflicted by a life threatening disease.

“Particularly on a practical level, we have seen it become almost intolerable if help is not available to support siblings and the rest of the family, when a parent is in hospital for extended periods with their child.”

The Andersons, of Cockleshell Close, Warsash, were one of 18 families with children recovering from cancer to be given the opportunity to go sailing on Firebrand during Cowes Week.

Ann Cooper, CLIC Sargent’s local Community Fundraising Manager, added: “For the families, this trip on board the Firebrand is an opportunity to spend some much-needed time together – something that is often difficult when a child is having cancer treatment, sometimes miles from home.”