We are like a big family at Sefton so since I came out in 2016, my unit has treated me exactly the same as before. Nothing changed and no fuss was made about the subject. It was treated as a normal day-to-day thing.

Speaking to my fellow cadets gave me a huge confidence boost. They offered help and advice on what I should say but I needn’t have worried, as the volunteers made no particular fuss about it, which was really encouraging.

I didn’t want to be treated as special and I didn’t want people to dwell on it too much – although a volunteer did tell me they are proud of me for being who I am and that will always hold a special place in my heart.

Listening to stories from other LGBT people in Sea Cadets can really help young people to find the confidence they need to be themselves, which is why I wanted to share my own experience – it might help another person who may be struggling.

I think the amount of support given by Sea Cadets towards the LGBT community is absolutely amazing and should definitely be recognised. I’ve never heard or seen any homophobic or transphobic language or behaviour, and every single person I’ve spoken to has been supportive.

Through personal experience, I can say that your sexual orientation really doesn’t matter. Don’t be afraid to be yourself!

If a cadet decides to come out, let them know it’s OK and doesn’t treat them any differently. Ultimately, they’re still the same person. My parents are very pleased with the support my unit has given and I’m definitely happier now.

- Niamh, Sefton Sea Cadets 

The Impact of Sea Cadets

The Impact of Sea Cadets

My name is Matthew and I attended Worcester Sea Cadets. I joined when I was 12-years-old and left when I was 16-years-old.

I had a fantastic time there and I am still welcome to go back when I can. It’s feels like a family, everyone is so nice and caring.

Sea Cadets helped me gain confidence and leadership. I did many courses such as Powerboat level 2 which was amazing.

I reached Able Cadet and enjoyed every second, especially the courses! You gain so many friends from around the nation, meet amazing people and see amazing things.

When I finished my GCSEs, I got the right grades to go to Fleetwood Nautical College where I am currently studying a HNC in nautical science as a Deck Officer Cadet. I am sponsored by P and O ferries and am really enjoying it. Sea Cadets has giving me the confidence and discipline to live on my own away from home and follow my dreams.

Although I had to leave at 16 I would have happily stayed until 18 if I could.

Once I qualify as a third officer in the Merchant Navy I will be sure to return.

Many thanks for what you have done for me.

Fundraising for my unit

Fundraising for my unit

I signed up for the cadet fundraising challenge when our unit asked us to think of a challenge that we could do ourselves to raise money for our new minibus. We had a lot of the money raised by other means, but we still needed another £2000 or so.

We had to think of the idea ourselves and carry it out. It could be anything. I chose my challenge and decided to do a 1.4-mile swim from Bournemouth pier to Boscombe pier. It’s longer than you think!

I have swum many times and probably even that distance, but this is completely different. For a start it’s much, much colder. The tides, if against you make swimming a lot harder and it feels like you are going one stroke forward and five strokes back.

I started out too shallow and swam deeper to avoid the groynes; these are walls built into the sea to prevent longshore drift. The good thing about these groynes is there are lots of them from Bournemouth to Boscombe and I used them to count down how long I had left. I knew how many there were because we parked at Boscombe and walked to Bournemouth before I started, so I counted as I went along. This helped me to think about the length of time I might have left to swim.

I didn’t have time to practice this swim because I had been so busy doing my first year of A levels. I would recommend that anyone doing something similar does practice a lot in the sea.

Myself and the other four cadets managed to raise £1242.55 by doing our challenges and this made buying the minibus a lot quicker.

Ordinary Cadet James
Winchester Sea Cadets

How I Got My Aviation Wings

How I Got My Aviation Wings

In February, I was lucky enough to be awarded the Daedalus Trophy for achieving top student on the Cadet Naval Aviation Course (CNAC)!

Where the journey started

I discovered I’d been accepted on the course in mid-December. There was an email sent to me with a list of names, one of which was my own. I was given a kit list, travel instructions, and a list of pre-course work to be done by the time I’d left for Weymouth (where the Basic CNAC was going to take place). The topics that were Principles of Flight, Radiotelephony, Basic Aircraft Instruments, Meteorology, and airmanship.

The Course

We woke at 0600h in order to have breakfast at 0730h. Usually, we would start lectures at 0800h. Our first lecture was Navigation from 0800h to 1000h (most of our lectures were 2 hours long). If you have done the basic navigation specialisation then this part of the course should be fairly simple for you. 

Our next lecture was Radiotelephony. This was probably the most difficult lecture of the entire course, not because it was a difficult subject but because the instructors had to talk exceptionally fast making it very difficult to take notes. Radiotelephony covered everything from Q-codes to callsigns as well as the Circuit.

Before dinner, we were asked to make a meteorology (MET) brief. We hadn’t been taught how to do that but I think that was part of the exercise. My flight’s MET brief was under-detailed, un-organised and disappointing, but it was our first and I don’t think the staff were expecting it to be any good, especially because we only had 15 minutes to prepare it.

Our last lecture of the day was the history of the fleet air arm (FAA). We were told about the FAA and all its major achievements and battles from when it was formed as the Royal Naval Air Service up until it’s newest aircraft carrier and her achievements. We finished that day at 2200h and were encouraged to do revision. We went to bed just after 2300h.

The next day was almost as difficult, we started the day with Airmanship and air law. We studied the different organisations linked with aviation in the UK and the EU as well as things like NOTAMs and airborne collision avoidance. We then studied the runway and all of its symbols and their definitions. After that, we had a lecture on the principles of flight.

On Tuesday, we spent a lot of the day on revision, however, we did study more MET and were told how to improve our MET briefs. We also studied the Radiotelephony transmitted in the circuit. We prepared our third MET brief but we wouldn’t be presenting it until the morning as a lot of the staff weren’t back from Yeovilton yet. For the first time that week, we got some free time to relax, although a lot of it was spent on personal revision!

On Wednesday, the first deal of the day was to do our group MET brief. I was more than nervous. We presented it, this time in an organised, structured fashion. We were given criticisms from most of the staff and the CO said nothing - I assumed no news meant good news. We were given lectures in the morning on human factors while flying, We were taught about Hypoxia, Aerotitis, and other difficulties of changes in pressure such as the bends. We were also taught about propulsion but only from the propeller. We then prepared our individual MET briefs for our exam in the afternoon. We were allowed to work on them together but we needed to present them individually.


There were four exams, MET, Radiotelephony in the circuit, Navigation and a written exam that covered all of the other topics we had learned. I will point out. However, not all of our assessment was on our exams, we were constantly assessed throughout the week on our knowledge and understanding, presentation and confidence, and most importantly our officer qualities.

Every exam was 1 hour. Our exams were done on flights, my first one was navigation. It went well, I plotted everything on the graph then filled out the route card and was finished and checked over with 15 minutes to spare. My second exam was my MET brief. It went better than I thought it would and I was told that I’d passed afterwards. I was pleased that I’d managed to improve my MET briefs since the second one. The next exam was Radiotelephony. A mock circuit was set up and we walked around it making various radio calls to the “tower” as we did so after which we were informed that we were the best group that had gone through it so far. Our last exam was a written exam.

Since we had no more studying to do, we got the evening off.


We got up at 0500h and left SCTC Weymouth at 0600h for RNAS Yeovilton. We got there in time for the 0800h MET brief from the staff there. We then went through training on how to exit the Grob Tutor in the event of an emergency. We were also weighed to see if we were heavy enough or too heavy to fly in the aircraft. I was only just heavy enough even after they’d added the weight of the 10kg parachute. We then had a quick tour of one of the hangars with the Commanding Officer of the base.

I had a quick bite to eat before going up and met my instructor, a civilian captain. I was given a parachute, sunglasses and gloves. I tried to make conversation with him but it was quite difficult to make out over the chatter from the tower and other aircraft around. We took off quickly and were above the clouds within a minute. He taught me the basic controls; pitching, yawing and banking. He then did a loop where we pulled about 3G. We then did another loop where I was following through and then I did one independently which I will admit was not as smooth as either of his. To finish the half hour off, We did a Cuban eight which, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a half loop followed by rolling onto your front and doing a dive, then another half loop followed by rolling back onto your front. We did two of those, I was told we’d pulled nearly 4G. Although it was good fun, it was like being in a washing machine. Unfortunately, the half hour I had in the aircraft was over. 

Once I was back on the ground we had a tour of the FAA museum hangar. We were shown around the Swordfish Torpedo Bomber of the second world war, the Sea Fury, the Chipmunk training aircraft, the Sea Vixen, the Harrier jump jet and the F-4 Phantom. After that, we waited for everyone to finish their flights and went back to Weymouth.


We were given a quick individual brief telling us if we had passed and if we were through to the intermediate course, I was lucky enough to get through. At the presentation, everyone was given their wings and the awards were given out. The third best student and second best student were given the various prizes they’d won. Finally, the Daedelus award was called and to my utter surprise, my name was called. I went up and received the prizes, I was given the trophy with my name engraved on it, a Seconda 50 metre pilot’s watch, a Pooley’s flight equipment bag, four books which I was told had all the information that I needed if I wanted to get my private pilot’s license, and a foam toy disposable aeroplane which I still have.

I would encourage all cadets to apply for this course. It is difficult, but if you have self-discipline then it is entirely possible. Although there is a lot of course to cover, it is far better and far more satisfying than being at school as you are being pushed to be better and better. There are long, intensive hours to work but it is all interesting and worth it in the end, especially since you have the opportunity to fly at the end of the week. The course is entirely possible if you have no prior experience but a few qualifications would help, those being basic marine engineering, basic navigation and basic meteorology. I can absolutely say, this is the most challenging, most satisfying, best qualification I have achieved within or outwith the Sea Cadet Corps and that is why the SCC is one of the best charities founded!

The Ship's Cat On TS Royalist

The Ship's Cat On TS Royalist

I was delighted to have been invited to visit Sea Cadets flagship TS Royalist, which is traditional tall ship. Sea cadets and royal marines cadets can spend a week on board this training ship, developing new skills and making new friends.

At one-year and three-months-old I was definitely the youngest on board.

Sister ships TS John Jerwood and TS Jack Petchey can take cadets from 12-years-old because they are powered vessels. The rope handling on a tall ship is a bit more physical so TS Royalist trains cadets aged 13 to 17-years-old.

Given my youthfulness I was a little surprised to be told that I reminded one cadet of his grandma! But he quickly explained that he meant “wise and experienced”. This seems plausible. I am a pretty magnificent moggy. Hello to grandma!

As an experienced prowler of Royal Navy warships, I had never been on board a sail ship or met any sea cadets or royal marines cadets before. I needn’t have worried as they were all very welcoming and most of them were on their first sailing trip too. My cadet shipmates were from units all over the UK and so day one was spent settling in, getting to know their new cabin mates, with the help of the experienced and friendly permanent staff.

I joined for day two which was the first day at sea. We spent the morning learning some essential safety rules, practicing putting on safety harnesses and having our first go at climbing the rigging; which is an important part of setting the sails at sea.

Sailing a tall ship is completely different to being at school and was new to all of us. Some cadets quickly discovered a hidden talent which they didn’t know they had while the rest of us needed a little longer and a bit more practice to master new things. This is fine; there were ten staff on board to assist us and fellow cadets encouraged each other well.

Every small step forward (or upward!) is celebrated. As soon as they climb onto the very first rung of the rigging ladders cadets have achieved something new and with a whole week in which to gain confidence, everyone enjoys personal progress.

I had a few difficulties with my claws getting stuck in the rope but I made it to the ‘first floor’ of the rigging, about a third of the way up. The sea breeze really gets in your whiskers up there – lovely!

Teamwork is an important part of the training. This can be anything from taking your turn as duty mess cadet, helping to serve hot food to those who have been out on deck; making sure that you’re pulling the right rope at the right time to coordinate with everyone else, or heaving heavier ropes as part of a group. ‘Learning the ropes’ is a phrase which has its origins in sailing and with one hundred and twenty “ropes with jobs” on TS Royalist, I can see why!

Lunch, cooked by the full time chef, was soup followed by pulled pork baps. On Sunday evening we had a traditional roast dinner. The smell of turkey had been wafting through the ship all day so it was a relief to finally get my paws on some. Several cadets had vegetarian meals and having let him know in advance, the very nice chef also catered for my feline needs. Purr-fect!

As well as being a lot of fun, TS Royalist provides a very different environment in which to discover and develop your individual strengths and identify and work on areas for improvement. For me a strength was that I am comfortable with heights. It’s a cat speciality. My main area for improvement was team work as I can be quite easily distracted by food and warmth. After my tail had been trodden on a couple of times I learnt to pay more attention to where I was in relation to feet and moving ropes!

All in all, it was a brilliant trip in a fascinating vessel. The staff are wonderful and have years of experience of working with young people at sea; they make sure that everyone is well looked after, including this Ship’s Cat. A big thank you to Captain Sea Cadets for the invite on board, and also to the lovely staff and cadets who made me so welcome. Enjoy the rest of your training season, TS Royalist!


Author: The Ship's Cat 

Follow The Ship's Cat on Twitter! @R08Cat 

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