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 

Marines Cadet Laurelle talks courage

Marines Cadet Laurelle talks courage

Royal Marines Cadet Second Class is Laurelle is the face of our newest value - courage. She tells us how it feels and what courage means to her.

I, myself, to be frank- was incredibly astonished to find that a photo of myself, in my Royal Marine Cadet parade uniform, was chosen as one of the Sea Cadet Corp value posters. The photo, in its own right, was unknown of; considering that I was focusing very hard on the task at hand at that present time- taking a squad “dressing”. For that matter, this photo was taken on the 21st October 2018- during the Trafalgar Parade; taking place annually in Trafalgar Square at Nelson’s Column, commemorating the Battle of Trafalgar itself. There was, as expected, a selection process and a few days of drill practice and training that had to be completed and, even so, there were further selections within the practices for the Companies that we’d represent. The parade itself was not only worthwhile but absolutely phenomenal: the training, what we’d learnt, the experience of being onboard HMS Excellent and the parade itself- marching from Horse Guards Parade, through Pall Mall and right past Buckingham Palace.

In finding a photo of myself as the face of the Corp value “Courage”, aside from honoured and humbled, it reminded me and prompted me to think of where I had demonstrated such a key value in my life thus far. In the Sea Cadet and Royal Marine Cadet Corp, and in life, courage is defined as “doing what we know is right”- especially in the face of adversity. For myself, this has ranged from reporting incidents to standing up for others, putting myself on the forefront for the sake of those who require defending or someone who has no voice. It definitely makes me smile in realising that, in fact, I have and I can demonstrate courage in my everyday activities and relations.

I do believe that, however, I have learnt something new- despite the obvious that, in any event, the paparazzi have their eyes on you, even if you didn’t expect them; but that courage comes in many forms and is a key value that mustn’t be taken lightly. In the SCC and RMC, we learn about many Victoria Cross Winners- with the Victoria Cross being the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system. In order to be awarded this, one must demonstrate “gallantry in the face of the enemy”, an “act of self-sacrifice and valour, and devotion to one’s duty”. More often than not, these winners are embossed with these awards in their selfless death- in serving those whom they protected. Although these aren’t handed out freely, young people can still take these values and ethics and implement them habitually. I think that courage is a pertinent morale that can help anybody- helped by it or demonstrating it. As Harper Lee said in To Kill a Mockingbird: “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. - Atticus Finch”

I would recommend the Sea Cadets and Royal Marines Cadets with my whole heart- as they have not only done so much for so many young people, but also enriched the lives of so many young people and adults alike. My experience has been wonderful so far; I would never have been able to take part in such a large-scaled and national event, like the Trafalgar Parade if I had stayed at home or done anything else! The SCC and RMC Corp has truly opened up so many doors for me and exposed me to new opportunities and skills. Having also been embarked onto the National Aviation course last year, with all thanks to my unit, I must say, we rarely do the “every day” and, in all honesty, I love it. From sailing to Physical Training and offshore voyages, from Marine Engineering to Communication-Information systems and shooting weekends; these are only the tip of the iceberg as to what the SCC and RMC offer. It truly adds value and depth to my skills and knowledge, as well as teaching me something new and allowing me to channel and focus on my current and newly made interests. I would have little to say without the RMC and SCC and I must emphasise, with heartfelt sincerity, that they have changed my life and made me a stronger and more confident individual- and I am more than grateful.

As I close, it is important to remember that courage itself is a beautiful thing- it separates the wheat from the chaff, highlights those who are happy to stand up for what is right, helps societies and groups to come together and build better relationships. I hope that, as we go on with our daily lives, that we’d see courage being demonstrated and shown more often- especially with the rise in youth crime and fatal incidents and attacks. To be frank, doing what is right is worth it all.

Sea Cadets have six values - loyalty, self-discipline, respect, commitment, honesty & integrity and courage.

How Sea Cadets landed me my dream job

How Sea Cadets landed me my dream job

Little did Rachel know when she joined Sea Cadets at 14 that it would lead to her landing her dream job as an adult. Here's her story...

I first joined the Sea Cadets in 2012 when I was 14 years old. I stayed with Staines Sea Cadets until I turned 18 and it was time to go to University, where I transferred to Welwyn & Hatfield Sea Cadets as a member of staff.

The experiences and qualifications I gained through the cadets have assisted me in getting to where I am today.

Through the cadets, I learnt to kayak. I got through to the National Regatta and came away with gold medals. I became a paddlesports instructor and went on to teach the cadets what I had been taught when I was their age. Becoming an instructor through the cadets helped me get a job in a Watersports Activity Centre, Stanborough Park, close to Uni and Welwyn Cadets, where I teach kayaking, rafting, stand-up paddle boarding and team building sessions for corporate companies, schools and groups. Similar to the Sea Cadets, but on a much larger scale.

As part of Welwyn cadets I had the opportunity to get more qualifications in watersports such as windsurfing and sailing, and also went on to become a powerboat instructor and a higher level of kayaking coach. 

With the opportunities and qualifications, I gained from the Sea Cadets, and the experience I gained from my job at Stanborough Park, I have since been offered a job at a beach resort in Greece for the remainder of 2019 with a very popular holiday company.

I can’t express just how happy I am with my 14-year-old self for joining the cadets. If I had never joined the cadets, I wouldn’t have learnt to paddle. If I hadn’t learnt to paddle I wouldn’t have picked a University with a kayak club, with whom I have since travelled around the country finding the biggest whitewater I can paddle.  My paddlesports knowledge also meant I was voted as Chairman of the Uni Kayak Club for two years running. If I hadn’t picked the University I did, I wouldn’t have transferred to Welwyn cadets. If I hadn’t gone to Welwyn cadets, I wouldn’t have got the job at Stanborough Park. And finally, if that never happened, I wouldn’t currently be preparing to move to Greece to work as a paddlesports instructor, doing the job I love.

I have my dream job because I joined the Sea Cadets as a 14-year-old and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

If you're interested in becoming a Sea Cadet or a volunteer visit the Join Us section to find out more. 

Shannon's story

Shannon's story

Shannon tells us what she got out of Sea Cadets, and why girls should think about joining. 

I joined the Sea cadets when I was 11 because my nan and grandad were both in the Navy and they thought it was a good place to make friends and develop my confidence. I developed skills such as teamwork and commitment and it helped me to gain more confidence and leadership abilities.

In 2015, I was the North West area Navy Board Cadet, one of only six in the country. We were chosen for outstanding commitment, achievement and dedication. I represented all cadets at competitions, ceremonies and meetings. I was also selected to carry Nelson’s ensign at the national Trafalgar parade in London, which was a big highlight of my cadet career.

I am keen for other girls to join Sea Cadets. It’s a place where you are accepted and encouraged to learn and become a leader. There isn’t anything that girls can’t do, whether it’s taking charge of a rowing crew, being part of the football team or going shooting – it’s open to all.

Fundraising is a huge element of Sea Cadets. As a charity, we rely on the time and effort of people to go out and fundraise and on the generosity of the public to give what they can. I was inspired to see how much people gave, people we didn’t know. Even though the Sea Cadets are a charity, the cadets and volunteers endlessly fundraise for others such as the Royal British Legion, Macmillan cancer support and SSAFA.

Throughout my time in Sea Cadets, my confidence grew and I learnt I was good with people and I could talk to them, and they felt like they could talk to me. This sparked my passion to help people. I am now a student nurse at Edge Hill University, and loving every second. I would have never made it without the skills and support I gained through cadets. I am forever grateful.

For more information about joining Sea Cadets visit the join us section on our website.

Élodie looks back on a fantastic 2018

Élodie looks back on a fantastic 2018

I am Cadet Sergeant Élodie, a Royal Marines Cadet in TS Leopold Muller, Flitwick & Ampthill, Eastern Area. I have been a cadet for five years, beginning my career when I was a junior. I love attending marine camps, shooting, piping, sailing and sliding seat rowing, and if there was one thing I could say to everyone involved within the SCC, it would be thank you.

Why would I say thank you? Because everybody who works within this amazing charity organisation gives up their time to genuinely make not just mine, but many other young people’s lives better. In all honesty, without cadets, my life would not be as awesome or crazy, and I’m certain I can speak for many of us.

So far, the year 2018 has been the best year of my cadet career, and to tell what happened would give the perfect opportunity to prove how grateful I am for the effort of everybody involved in the SCC.

My year started off in January when the drill competition kick-started everything. Being a fairly young detachment of only nine cadets, our marines had never entered the drill competition before. Me, being the Corporal and IC of the detachment was guard commander, and I made up the routine for the drill. District was nerve-wracking for me, as I had entered drill competitions before when I was a sea cadet but as a marine, I was nervous for we were inexperienced. Yet, to our delight, we won and went through to area. At the area competition, we were up against some serious drill teams, two of which having attended nationals and one having won the previous nationals! We came runners up, which was terrific as for our first time doing the drill competition we had only lost to the last year’s national winners.

The next thing that happened, was the Unit Review. In previous years our young detachment had dreamed of getting the highest score possible, but we’d never gotten it. But this year, we really pulled up our socks and managed to easily get a 5 out of 5, which was a massive contribution to our URV. Our DC was extremely pleased, and so he should be! He has worked incredibly hard to bring our detachment’s standards up.

In all my five years of being a cadet, I had never gone on an offshore voyage. I can say now, after having gone on the yachts over the Easter week, it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I cannot begin to describe how happy I felt during the entire week -the jokes, the freedom, the friendships, and the experiences were all hilarious and fun. Before I was slightly afraid of deep water (because of fish!), and sailing on the Solent for the week helped me overcome that fear easily. I am so grateful to the offshore staff for giving us the best time on the offshore yacht, and I am planning on going on it many more times.

The next few months of spring mainly consisted of weekends away, such as helping to teach on the pre-advancement board for the marines. I also did boating such as a week of sailing at Thrapston. Another thing that I did was enter competitions. I entered the area sailing for the 3rd year just for the fun of it, and the combined regatta. In my previous years, I had always entered double sliding seat rowing, but this year my partner had left cadets. Slightly disheartened at the idea of entering the yole single, I still managed to win district and then, surprising myself further, I won area. Considering we as a unit hadn’t had our unit-bought yole brought up to our lake yet, the fact that I managed to win area without training was shocking for me. Anyway, I had nationals to come soon but I wasn’t focusing on that just yet. I had the X-Ray Marines Summer Camp to attend for the 4th time.

Royal Marines Summer Camp is definitely my favourite camp. I first attended it when I was a CFC as a sea cadet on basic troop. From that week, I was determined to one day be a JNCO on JCC, the highest troop. The next year I was still a sea cadet, and I was on intermediate troop, and the following year was rifle troop as a lance corporal. Now, this year I was a corporal, and JNCO. I had worked my way up through all the troops, and this year I was now attending JCC! My dream from four years ago was going to happen, because I had put in so much effort to get myself there. So, in August, I took part and completed JCC troop as a cadet corporal.

After the camp, I was to focus on Nationals which was looming up. I was a little worried, but then again, who isn’t at competitions?! I started my first race, just telling myself that this was a great experience to attend Nationals for the second time, and I would just enjoy it and try my best. To my delight, I won Nationals and came first, bringing home the gold medal to X-Ray Company and Eastern Area. I was extremely happy and proud of myself, for the confidence that I had managed to muster in order to try my best was all thanks to being the Sea Cadet Corps. I could not have done it without the amazing experiences previously.

By now, we had gained four more cadets including two transfers from the blue side, and the next thing to focus on was X-Ray Coy’s CATSEA (Company Annual Training and Safety Efficiency Assessment) weekend. As a young detachment, we were not the most experienced, but I personally had previously had two CATSEAs. In 2017, we had achieved a ‘satisfactory’ with a rate of 50%, which was decent enough. But this year we wanted to aim much higher, and so, after our enthusiastic training, we managed to obtain a ‘good’ with the amazing rate of 82%, scoring the third highest out of the largest company. This amazing achievement is not only down to our brilliant detachment, but also our DC, whose hard work and effort to train us up to our standards has proven to be successful.

Just as CATSEA finished, another amazing thing happened. I had been chosen to be the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for Bedfordshire, scoring a hat trick for our unit (being the third cadet from TS Leopold Muller in three preceding years) and the first Royal Marines Cadet for Bedfordshire. This was a great honour and for that, I am so grateful that I was chosen.

By now it was November, and at the end of this month was the final advancement board of any Royal Marines Cadet: the Cdt Sergeant’s National board. Having been joint first Lcpl of our unit, and then first Cpl, I had no idea what to expect for the Sgt board. With the good training from the company, I turned up on the board determined that I would achieve the pinnacle rate of the RMC. I can say that I did manage to do it, and the fantastic memories and friends I made at the same time truly made the weekend incredible. The staff, as well as the cadets put in a huge amount of effort and the result, was outstanding, and yet again I can proudly say thank you to everyone who was involved for making my sergeant board awesome.

Just as I thought the year could not get any better, our unit, having just won the Stephenson trophy for the best unit in Eastern Area, got the news that we, Flitwick & Ampthill Sea Cadets, had won the Canada Trophy -officially recognising that we are the best unit in the country in 2018! I am so thankful to my entire unit, P&SA, and staff, who without them could not have made this highest achievement come true. So I can conclude this brief summary of my amazing year as a cadet, with the hopes that my reasons to be incredibly thankful to the Sea Cadet Corps are definitely proven. I also hope that this may be an inspiration to all the younger cadets, so that they may know just how fantastic the corps is. Thank you, once again, Sea Cadets and Royal Marines Cadets!

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