Around 9,000 “ordinary heroes” are ensuring life within Sea Cadets continues as normal this Volunteers Week, while many are also playing their part in the frontlines of the battle against the Covid-19 outbreak.
85% of Sea Cadet activities at unit level are taking place virtually, despite the loss of hugely popular inshore and offshore boating programmes, Sea Cadets competitions and the International Exchange Programme.
Sea Cadets remains a hugely vital part of so many young people with nearly 14,500 cadets nationwide. During lockdown, the impact of our volunteers on their lives hasn’t stopped, with a recent survey showing wide satisfaction with the Virtual Sea Cadets programme.
We’ve seen cadets pick up more than 800 qualifications in the last two months and nearly 650 earn promotions.
It’s especially heartening to see so many Sea Cadet volunteers continue to do their bit within all of the nation’s key services, especially those who have helped battle the coronavirus pandemic amid the NHS, care homes and the emergency services.
With many across the country taking the time to volunteer during the crisis, there will always be a welcome for new and returning volunteers within Sea Cadets from some of the following:
Heather Reading/Stephen Reading, Leamington & Warwick Sea Cadets
Day job: Critical care nurse/Police officer
Heather and Stephen help run Warwick and Leamington Sea Cadets and say that working with cadets who are keen to engage helps them take their mind away from work in the NHS and the police service.
Stephen says, “The fact that Sea Cadets has been able to pull together and continue to give vital support to young people at this time is great. Seeing cadets on group video calls has proved how valuable our charity is to them. Seeing them interact, smile, laugh and even submit coursework is great.”
Heather says, “Sea Cadets instils confidence, self-sufficiency and resilience in young people and undoubtedly our cadets are able to use these life skills to navigate the current challenges we face. It’s also been a humbling experience; to learn that things aren’t always going to go your way will serve them well in the future.
Martyn Barber, Severn District Sea Cadets
Day Job: Chef in Children’s Hospice
Martyn works as a chef in a children’s hospice and combines that with helping other volunteers develop the skills they need to help the cadets of today developing the adults of tomorrow.
Martyn says, “I get the same enjoyment in my work life as I do working with other volunteers within Sea Cadets. It is very rewarding, you make great friendships and working with caring people. You really do support each other and get a sense of pride and satisfaction”
Lloyd Jones, Milford Haven Sea Cadets
Day Job: Learning Support Assistant at Primary School
Lloyd helps provide special needs to primary age children at a behavioural unit at a school I West Wales.
Lloyd told us, “I find volunteering with Sea Cadets a massive reward. Getting to meet all of the staff around the corps and making lifelong friends through this. Sea Cadet has brought so much into my life and I really enjoy teaching the kids we have.”
“The cadets are a delight to teach and I feel amazed by how much I am still learning. Being wihin Sea Cadets makes me feel like I have a UK wide family and I cannot wait to get back to it. I joined 6 years ago and have loved every single minute of it.”
Alison Kennedy, Sussex District Sea Cadets
Day job: Emergency ambulance technician
Alison is able to use her skills developed within the Ambulance service in Hastings to good use helping the volunteers within Sea Cadets. And it’s also been therapeutic during the current lockdown.
“Sea Cadets has been great for my wellbeing. Dealing with the Covid-19 crisis is a daily occurrence and can be quite upsetting. To help me deal with the stresses, we have adopted a Covid-19 free home, with only one news item a day. So getting on and being able to write lessons, set quizzes and meet virtually is a great distraction.
“As an Assistant District Officer, I am not in direct contact with cadets and training. However, I am able to support cadets through Google Classrooms, writing lessons and quizzes, and attending unit forums through Microsoft Teams. I hold regular Skype sessions with the district team and volunteers.”
Sally Smith, Officer In Charge, Bedford Sea Cadets
Day Job: Practice Development Nurse, Emergency Department, Bedford Hospital
Sally says “This is my passion, I love my job and although working in this type of environment is very challenging at times, we work as a team and we support one another.”
Sally also helps to run Bedford Sea Cadets and finds a similar level of teamwork there as in the NHS.
Chris Gay, Officer in Charge, Musselburgh Sea Cadets
Day Job: Ambulance Control Officer, Scottish Ambulance Service
“I deal directly with Covid-19 patients as well as medical professionals across Scotland and my job is make sure the patients get the care they need as quickly as possible.”
“I love being part of the service. Every call is different and every call is a person needing help, I love to make sure they receive the first step along the way to getting the right patient care.”
“It’s helped my people skills which has also helped me within Sea Cadets, I was quite quiet when I started which is unusual for Sea Cadets. When you work with so many people, it brings you out of yourself and it’s definitely takent me out of my comfort zone.”
Captain Phil Russell, RN, Captain of Sea Cadets says, “These are just some of the ordinary heroes helping Sea Cadets offer a different kind of adventure to young people up and down the country.”
“Sea Cadets are proud of our strong links with the Royal Navy but volunteers join us from all walks of life and no previous nautical experience is needed. When you start volunteering with us you can be assured of a warm welcome and an amazing experience as part of the Sea Cadet family.”
“Whichever unit they join, adults can be assured of a warm welcome if they join the Sea Cadet family.”
Potential volunteers who want to join Sea Cadets can find their local unit by going to the Sea Cadets website at www.sea-cadets.org.