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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!

Ted’s Mighty Marathon

Ted’s Mighty Marathon

Cadet Hollis (Ted) of T.S Defiance (Newhaven & Seaford Sea Cadets) decided to take part in ‘My Mighty Marathon’ because he’s proud to be a sea cadet and wanted to do something out of the ordinary to represent his unit.

Ted has thoroughly enjoyed his time as a cadet over the last two years, starting aged 10 as a Junior. He has been canoeing, rowing, sailing, spent a weekend on a boat, taken part in swimming and football competitions, and of course, summer camp where he returned after five days with no voice but a bagful of stories! It isn’t just the big stuff though that he benefits from, the everyday activities of the unit from drills to stand easy to Colours, have all reinforced his confidence, pride and promoted a strong sense of community to him.

So, Ted came up with the idea to longboard the 26 miles in one go - as a regular and competent skateboarder, he wanted to take the opportunity to use his ‘Larry Longboard’ to achieve his goal in a unique and impressive way.

Ted mentioned his idea to his fellow cadets and Logan and Civita-Laird agreed to join him on the journey, by cycling alongside him. The logistics and support crew was made up by Ted’s Mum on a scooter and his Dad by bicycle.

So the date was set and on Saturday 5th January the Hollis trio, Logan and Civita-Laird began the epic journey from East Brighton Park to Worthing and back.

The journey was fraught with danger such as: rough pavements with potholes - a long boarder’s nightmare; pedestrians – wandering across the cycle path, excitable dogs and of course the British weather – not making it above four degrees and a biting wind. However, with regular stops for fuel the merry band got on with the task in hand. What was especially impressive was the cadet’s commitment to each other, they laughed, joked and encouraged each other all the way.

Civita-Laird managed to complete the journey by mountain bike having only ridden a BMX over short distances before. Logan not only cycled the entire way with ease but also helped Hollis by giving him a boost- pushing him along when he was struggling over rough ground and inclines. Despite the cold weather, everyone enjoyed themselves and thanks to the Sustrans we had dedicated safe cycle routes to follow.

The Sea Cadets instil and develop teamwork and being part of something greater than oneself - this clearly showed in the mutual support given by the three cadets, and the positive attitude shown by all to complete the task.

Ted wanted to do something to help the Sea Cadets to continue to have a positive impact on young people’s lives.

Bring on the next challenge!

Katie's trip of a lifetime

Katie's trip of a lifetime

The CVQO Westminster award finalist trip to South Africa was without a doubt one of the best two weeks of my life and I know that I will never forget it. I have made some lifelong friendships and experienced things I never imagined I would get the chance to.

The 11-hour plane journey gave us all time to get to know each other and started off those bonds that grew stronger throughout the trip. After we had landed, our first port of call was to get to the first camp we would be staying at for the first three nights called Elandsheim. Our first activity when we arrived was to complete a muddy assault course and take part in team activities, just to really make sure we got to know each other very well.

During our stay here, we learned about the history of the Zulu tribes and the battle of Rorke’s Drift, we were even fortunate enough to visit the museum created where the battle took place. An amazing fact and piece of British history I learned was that this battle was where the most Victoria Crosses were won in a single battle. We also walked the Isandlwana battlefields tour, which showed us some of the beautiful landscapes of the country and encountering the famous Buffalo River which we crossed, barefooted.

One of my personal favourite experiences here was in the evenings before we went to bed we would all lay down on the field and look up at the stars. They were so incredible not like anything I have ever seen before, we could even see the milky way and the more shooting stars than I could even count. It was just spectacular and I will always remember the beautiful starry African nights.

We left the camp on the minibus to go to our next destination, on the way we played karaoke which was hilarious and a good way to pass the time. Our next stop where we would be staying for the majority of our trip was Albizia camp in Hluhluwe. After settling down and picking tents we gathered round the campfire for a talk about the current global poaching situation, we all asked questions to get a better understanding of what was going on in other countries and things we weren’t exposed to back in the UK. It is safe to say a few of us were choked up or had a tear in our eye unfortunately not for the right reasons. It is so sad what goes on and makes me very angry and want to help.

After this we had our first ever Indaba session, this is where we all sit around the campfire and we had chosen an Indaba stick which was used when someone wanted to speak, no one else could speak unless they were holding the stick. Our first session included people sharing past experiences they have had both good and bad, things they were afraid of or just anything they wanted to get off their chest. Some more tears were shed but it was well worth it and I’m sure everyone will agree we are all now closer as a group because of it. What more perfect of a setting than the beautiful Umkhumbi safari lodge, surrounded by nature and true ‘wild camping’.

The next day was very interesting and probably the most unforgettable day, not necessarily for the right reasons though. Today we skinned and dissected a Nyala Bull. I watched from the sidelines. It was upsetting to think this animal was alive before I had eaten my breakfast that morning, however, it showed us all just how real the circle of life is. I can still smell it now though, yuck not one of my favourite things I have ever done! The rest of the day we went on an adventure walk through the conservation park we were staying in, came across lots of evidence of previous animal action such as footprints of hippos on the bankside and hyena’s faeces, which actually turn white due to the amount of calcium they intake from the bones of their food.

Our project the next day was to help join two conservations so that the animals have a place to roam. To do this we took down a 3km fence and barbed wire - this meant that our South Africa team really had to work together. All the members of the conservation park were so pleased with the worked we had done and how quickly we had done it. It would have taken them nearly three times as long if we weren’t there to chip in. We then trekked through the bush looking for a zebra that went missing recently. During this time, we witnessed Tommy use his tracker expertise; for example, pointing out to us that the zebra’s dung was only an hour old. Sadly, we were not able to find the zebra but it was still an experience to remember.

A new experience today for most of the team as we went to a local school. All the children were so friendly and loved seeing us, plenty of high fives and piggybacks to go round and they were all fascinated by our long golden hair. Plenty of pictures were taken with us and they loved seeing the picture on the screen. We were then tasked with giving presentations to the classes about rhino poaching and getting them to understand the importance of how dangerous it is and how it can impact their future. It was quite difficult because at first, they didn’t understand us as there was a language barrier, but as soon as I started talking about the big five they all sprung to life and were getting involved putting their hands up and answering the questions. We were also able to play a game of football and volleyball with the kids, who were surprisingly good!

Today we went to another school to do another talk about poaching. After we did the presentation the school performed lots of different songs to us. Then a young girl who spoke amazing English talked to us about Nelson Mandela day. We performed a pretty tuneful rendition of the national anthem to them and they responded by singing the South African anthem to us. We then took part in a mini sports day - some of us played football, netball, and volleyball and of course, there was lots of singing and dancing. To finish the day, the teachers insisted that we had a whole school photo, which was absolutely amazing. On the way home from the school we took part in a home visit where we saw how the grandparents made the sleeping mats used in Zulu households. Once they gave us a talk about it, we helped them with making food, planting vegetables and collecting water from the well.

Next, was our well-deserved rest and relaxation day and we were all excited to head to the beach and work on our tans. I don’t think any of us were prepared for the walk ahead of us once we parked up at the gates of the bay. We slid our way through the sand and down the hills, passing some ancient fish traps, which date back to over 2,000 years ago with the technique being passed down the generations. The sight we were met with is like nothing I’ve ever seen or will ever see again; with beautiful clear water, sandbars and green hills that surrounded the bay and opened only for the ocean. We splashed about in the water, played football and had a laugh as not only a team but now a group of friends that has honestly come so far since day one.

Game drive day, we set off in two trucks with open tops down the road to Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park. This journey was almost colder than the ‘mud island’ (Tommy’s nickname for the UK) but we soon warmed up and the real fun began. Despite the early start it was a relatively relaxing day with our aim being to see lots of animals, especially the famous big five. First came the wildebeest then the impala and the nylala, buffalo and finally some elephant before stopping for a braai (bbq). After lunch we had even more success spotting animals – we saw plenty of white rhinos which are truly amazing to see, weighing a hefty two tonnes, but even more fascinating was seeing three wild dogs and a glimpse of a lioness, both of which are a rare sight to see.

The last day was my 17th Birthday, how memorable to wake up in my new found favourite country. Probably one of the most special birthdays I will have in my lifetime. I opened my presents from my parents that I had carried with me the whole trip and had been so excited to open. Then, unfortunately, it was time for us to head to the airport for our final day together as the team.

We were looked after so well during our time in their beautiful country, the South African tour guides and coordinators made my time out there just that extra bit special. They have all sparked something in me to be more like them and the experience would 100% have been different without them. Since going to South Africa my life has most definitely changed for the better. It has been a whirlwind of busy cadet nights, awards ceremonies presentations and I have well and truly been rushed off my feet.

CVQO and the Duke of Westminster Award have helped my Sea Cadet career to prosper beyond my belief and it has opened doors for me that I didn’t even know were there. For example, a picture of me and the Captain of the SCC at the House of Lords made it onto the Sea Cadets Main Social Media sites for thousands to see, I have had an invitation from the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire to attend his Awards ceremony and to receive an award myself. Even things like my mum posting on Facebook how proud she is of me, then me getting dozens of replies from friends and family congratulating me and telling me in person what an amazing young lady they think I am. It is a really big confidence boost to show me that I am doing something right. Not to mention the brilliant qualifications that I have gained along the way.

We are such lucky young people to have the opportunity to gain the complex qualifications we have obtained from doing this award. They are nationally known, and I appreciate how much value they are worth not just on my CV but in the skills gained from completing them too, I will take these leadership qualities with me through every future job or Sea Cadets role I can.

I cannot put into words how life changing and spectacular my two weeks out there were, and the effect they have had on me as a person. It has made me realise things about myself I thought I knew but discovered in more depth when in close proximity with the other teammates. Things like learning to laugh at things that don't matter, and that it is the little things in life that make it so amazing and memorable and these little things will fuel certain memories that bring you back to those experiences.

TIA ‘This Is Africa’

Katie is a Leading Cadet at Warsash Sea Cadets and a 2018 Westminster Award Finalist.

 

 

New Year's Honours: Johanna Rohan

New Year's Honours: Johanna Rohan

Johanna Rohan, Chair of Canterbury Sea Cadets, recently received a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours for services to young people in Kent. We caught up with her to find out what she thinks of it all…

It is a great honour and was a surprise to be recognised for the voluntary work that I have been doing with Canterbury Sea Cadets, of which I have been involved with for just over 15 years! It needs to be said that of course there are many other people who have been on this journey with me, whom, without their encouragement to carry on fundraising, I would have become very disheartened.

My two boys joined Canterbury Sea Cadets and both stayed until they were 16, our unit was a very cold tumbled down building which in the time that we were there became quite a dangerous place and not fit for purpose. So, the brief was to find money and a site to build a new unit. As Canterbury Sea Cadets have been around for over 50 years we knew it was worth saving!

I would like to add, as a parent of former cadets, just how important the Sea Cadets were in their lives, when we all went through a very rocky three years in our personal lives, Sea Cadets was the one thing that was a routine, every Tuesday and Thursday was cadet night and they couldn't wait to get there.

I was very grateful to the staff who ran the cadets and the dedication that they showed. Without staff, there would have been no unit nights. By joining the committee, it was my way to say thank you. I just didn't realise I was going to stay so long!!

It took more than three years to get everything together and we now have a great new building adjacent to the River Stour. It meant long evenings writing and rewriting application forms and visiting businesses to ask for help, it was fantastic to see the building rise from the ground and even better now to see cadets in it and boats outside of it!

Onward we go, raising funds to complete the second floor, a container and a mini-bus!! THE JOURNEY NEVER ENDS!!

Thanks to Johanna for all of her hard work over the years, and congratulations on her well-deserved BEM!

Why running puts the biggest smile on my face!

Why running puts the biggest smile on my face!

With many cadets, volunteers, parents and staff taking part in our My Mighty Marathon challenge this New Year, we thought we would ask some of them about their activities. Charlie Maling, a Training Development Officer in the national office, is a keen runner and shares how she started the New Year…

It was 9 am on 1 January 2019 and I was jogging down to the local underground station. Quite a few partygoers were still wandering in the opposite direction, after plenty of New Year’s Eve merriment! So why was I in bed at ten and jumping up early on New Year’s Day rather than ‘going out and having fun’?

The answer is that on 1 January every year, Serpentine Running Club host their New Year’s Day 10k race in Hyde Park. Ten kilometres of brisk, chilly winter morning racing – for most, run on a sore head. For me, though, running hard on the first day of a new year sets the tone for the way I want the next 364 to go.

I jogged from Marble Arch to the race start where my friends were waiting. We dropped our bags and started to warm up. It was lovely to be out chatting and socialising rather than complaining about a hangover! At eleven am, we lined up on the packed and buzzing start line waiting for the final countdown.

Three…two…one… we were off! It was cold enough that my shoelaces felt like tiny whips against my ankles and I huddled in behind taller runners for the first couple of miles to keep out of the wind. Nevertheless, I have never felt so strong! I didn’t want to begin my new year with the guilty feeling of having indulged too much over Christmas. I wanted to begin by achieving something, by setting the bar for the year ahead. My goal was to run a PB (personal best) and to finally dip under 40 minutes for 10km. I felt great throughout the race – it was fun to look at the startled stares of dog walkers who had dragged themselves out for their pets’ first walk of the year, and I even relished pushing through the pain barrier at 7km, overtaking those who had set off too fast or had a drink too many the night before. Even the bit at the end where I had to dodge two geese and a squirrel was exhilarating.

I finished the race in 39 minutes 13 seconds, joined minutes later by two of my female team-mates, which meant we won the team prize! The race photos say it all – I was grinning all over my face. Beginning the year with a hard, fast run leaves me feeling like I can do anything I put my mind to. It leaves me feeling strong and determined. And best of all, running in the morning means I can eat as much as I like for brunch!

If you’re taking part in My Mighty Marathon, whether you’re doing one mile at a time or tackling all of them at once, get in touch and tell us about it at getinvolved@ms-sc.org!

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