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Expedition to Africa ‘changed my life’

● Lt (SCC) Peter Killick RNR presents a plastic duck bearing the TS Echo crest to Cdr Irvine Lindsay

CO gets the bird from Llanelli

IN EARLY 2009 OC Naomi Manger was reading through her weekly Sea Cadet newsletter when she saw an article about a trip to South

Africa to celebrate Cadet 150. Her mother said the chances of Naomi winning a place were small, but she may as well go for it, so the Warsash unit cadet posted off her letter of application. A couple of months later a letter

SHIP’S badges make good gifts in Naval circles.

Plastic ducks are another thing all together.... But the CO of HMS Trenchant,

Cdr Irvine Lindsay, was happy to accept just such a gift from the Llanelli unit, as he has followed the progress of TS Echo’s ducks over the course of a number of duck races.

arrived saying she had been short- listed, and was invited to attend a selection weekend. An excited Naomi went through the team-building activities, feeling a little shy as she was still only 15 while some of her rivals were aged up to 19.

TS Echo cadets count themselves very fortunate to be affiliated to a submarine, so when members of the boat’s crew visited Llanelli to catch up with affiliates, the CO and his Logistics Officer, Lt Matt Rees, were invited to the training ship. The officers spoke to cadets about life on board submarines, then Cdr Lindsay was presented with the duck, complete with the TS Echo crest.

Students fl ock to TS Iveston


Another nervous wait – then her CO at the time, Lt (SCC) Ron Cheek RNR, broke the good news – Naomi had won a place on the 60-strong expedition to South Africa and Lesotho. All she had to do was raise £1,000...

berthed at Tilbury Docks, hosted numerous marine engineering (ME) courses, and billeted up to 30 youngsters on board at a time. The summer holidays saw a

National Class 1 ME (Electrical) course ran in parallel with a National Junior ME Instructors course and a Class 2 ME course for the London area. Including two maintenance cadets – POC Risk of Thurrock unit and Cdt L/Cpl Alexander of Hornchurch, who assisted Lt (SCC) George Wilson RNR in the operation of the ship – up to 30 cadets at a time, from as far away as Cumbria, were accommodated. Cooking was undertaken by Gill Haines, Thurrock’s treasurer, even though the oven did show signs of giving up the ghost – repairs should have been completed by the time Navy News went to press. Capt Mark Windsor, Captain Sea Cadets, dropped in to speak to students about their courses, and found most were very taken with the opportunity to learn new skills in such a unique training ‘establishment’.

CUTTing crew

MEMBERS of the West Ham unit held a Continuation Unit Team Training (CUTT) course at HMS Raleigh. Also there providing a little

friendly competition were cadets from Clapton and Hackney and Newham Cornwell VC units. The youngsters tackled an assault course, learned drill and sea survival and got to steer a boat through Plymouth Harbour. West Ham took the Vigilant

Trophy for the best unit at Raleigh in 2010 – not just a great result for the cadets, but also for Lt Cdr Mark Weston RNR, leading his last

such course after stepping

down as Commanding Officer of the unit in the summer.

National Class 1 ME (Mechanical) course alongside two London Area Class 3 ME courses and two Level 2 power boating courses. During October half-term a

minesweeper owned by Thurrock unit, can look back on a busy year. The former Ton-class ship,

the retired

A climb up Snowdon, a whip- round at her mother’s wedding and appeals to friends and family saw Naomi hit her target, and with Christmas presents in the form of vouchers for outdoor shop vouchers she was well on her way. Training weekends culminated in a session for all 60 cadets in Wales, and the 20km walk ended with a surprise meeting with Prince Harry, whose charity – Sentebale – the cadets would be working with. “He was such a nice man...” recalled Naomi, adding: “He told us that the people of the Lesotho and the experience of their country would change ourselves, and he was definitely right.” Although the nerves kicked in

at the thought of being so far from home, out of contact with family, as she met up with other cadets at Uxbridge the night before the flight Naomi got caught up with the excitement. “When we got to Johannesburg

I was tired and just wanted to sleep,” said Naomi. “It took us five hours on the coach to get to our base camp, Em’seni, where we would stay for a week in order to get acclimatised. “I loved it at this place – it was nice and warm during the day but freezing at night.”

Although a little homesick, a full

programme – including a strenuous escorted walk up the steep slopes to the Boer War killing field of Spion Kop – kept Naomi and her colleagues busy; they also had to train in first aid, river crossing and carrying an injured person. “As well as this we had to attend

and saw all

an environmental awareness camp at Weenen Game Reserve, where we spent two nights in tents in the African bush,” said Naomi. “We went on two safari drives sorts of

● Cadets work on the garden and meet one of the children at Touching Tiny Lives in Lesotho – Naomi is holding the baby (right)

“TTL educates the families in looking after babies and most of the babies at the centre return to their families.

“Most of the babies have HIV and when they come to TTL they are extremely malnourished. “The people at TTL work so hard to make these babies better, constantly giving them medication and love and affection. “Unfortunately they can’t save

every baby, however they do their best.

“It was so emotional seeing these babies and I just wanted to help and do anything I could for them.

“But I learnt the best thing we could do was give them love and lots of cuddles. “We also donated so many baby

clothes.” There was also some hard

physical work – building a fence around the garden, turning the soil in the vegetable patch ready for the rainy season, and painting a huge sign on the wall to let people know where TTL was. “I loved it in Lesotho,” said

Naomi. “The locals all knew who we were, and by the end of our time there we were dancing with them, literally. “It’s so different from England –

we’re so lucky with what we have. “Having no telly or anything


including giraffe, zebra, meerkats, warthog and loads of varieties of antelope. “We also saw black rhino and white rhino with a two-week old calf.

“It was an amazing experience seeing these animals in their natural habitat, completely different from seeing them in a zoo. “At Weenen we watched a guide dissect a blessbuck antelope. It was disgusting, yet really interesting. “After a week in South Africa

we set off on a 12-hour drive into Lesotho, a country inside South Africa. This is where our real adventure would start. “We spent ten days in Lesotho,

on seven of which we would work on our charity projects. “Our team stayed in a town

called Mokhotlong and worked with a charity named Touching Tiny Lives (TTL).

“This is where babies are taken in because their parents are not in the right state to look after their children.

● Cadets set out on a trip during their expedition to South Africa

was great – we all just played games and just talked. I even learnt how to play the guitar!” The trip ended with a three-

day expedition in the Lesotho mountains. “This was the hardest part of the

trip, and the hardest expedition I have ever done,” said Naomi. “We were camping in temperatures of -20°C – it was so cold that we had ice inside our tent. “Every time someone moved, the ice would come down and it was like it was snowing inside our tent.

“I feel the cold so much and I think that is what made it so hard. “Our expedition was to climb Thabana Ntlenyana, and the views from this point were amazing. “I almost cried as I was so proud of myself. There were times when I just wanted to go home, but with the help of the team I pulled through, and now I had stood on the highest mountain in South Africa.

“After this expedition we went to Sani Top pub, the highest pub in Africa and had the most amazing meal ever. “That night was our last in Lesotho so we

celebrated and

sang songs around the fire with a guitar. “We were all sad to leave

Lesotho but we were also proud of each other and happy we had made our time there one to always remember. “The morning after our last night in Lesotho, we walked out of Lesotho, down the Sani Pass, and back into South Africa, where the next couple of days we spent attending battlefield tours. “However, the first thing I did when I got back to Em’seni was have a shower – none of us had showered in

seven days as the

water was freezing where we were staying.

“Our final night in South Africa

was one night I will never forget – we had a party with all 60 cadets and leaders, with a bonfire, BBQ, and music. “We exchanged stories of our projects and experiences and said our goodbyes. “My time in Africa was truly

wonderful, and I really believe I came home a different person. “I am more mature now, I don’t take things for granted as much, and I really appreciate having a family, as I know that some children will never know their parents. “I learnt so much from this trip and I intend to teach my peers about this experience; however, they will not fully understand how I felt.

“So Prince Harry was right –

this trip and the people of Lesotho did touch my heart and change my life.

“I see things so differently to

how I did before I went. “I’m so grateful to the Sea

Cadets for giving me this once-in- a-lifetime opportunity – if I wasn’t in the Cadets I would probably never have done anything like this.”

Hereford gathers momentum

MEMBERS of the Hereford unit are on a roll.

PPO Charlotte Robinson is

believed to be the youngest person to pass the National Officer Selection Board (OSB) at the age of 18 years, and by April she will be a Midshipman within the SCC.

This was followed by POC

Courtney Aston achieving the top mark for all POC Advancements in the South West Area – out of 79 units – during the last calendar year.


Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for Herefordshire,

Aston is also the while further

success came for her and AC Hannah Green in the form of the CVQO BTEC Award in Public Service, equivalent to four GCSEs at A* to C grade.

Another cause for celebration

was the fact that two cadets, LC Williamson and AC Bevan, have passed all the criteria to join the Royal Navy and just await their place.

And finally, Hereford has been

awarded the burgee standard, placing the unit in the top 25 per cent of Sea Cadet units in the country.

Looking ahead, plans have been lodged with Herefordshire Council for the unit’s new headquarters. TA Antelope has been in its existing building, situated on the banks of the River Wye for over 70 years, but the HQ has come to the end of its working life and needs to be replaced.

More than £70,000 has been raised in just over a year, but more is needed to complete the project – and the unit would love to hear from anybody who could contribute in any way.

Bridlington CCF team on the Rock

TEN cadets and accompanying officers led by Wg Cdr Sue Shilladay RAF VR(T), drawn from all three sections of Bridlington School CCF, celebrated Cadet 150 and the school’s CCF centenary with a visit to Gibraltar. The group took part in the

Trafalgar Day commemorations, which they found extremely moving.

The training programme included two days on the water courtesy of the Royal Navy, during which the cadets added to their dinghy sailing and kayaking qualifications and enjoyed exploring the coastline in RIBs. High winds added to the sailing

thrills but caused the cancellation of climbing – an hour in the RIB proved an acceptable alternative! There were also the obligatory visits to meet the monkeys, tour the tunnels, shelter from the heat in St Michael’s Cave, take a ferry to Algeciras and stroll down to Europa Point. Staff have also passed on their thanks to Clyde Naval Base for hosting 20 cadets. The

 youngsters toured a

submarine and a minehunter, and improved their marksmanship skills on the Dismounted Close Combat Trainer (DCCT). A look round a fire station and

a ride in a fire engine never goes amiss, either... There was time for physical

training too, in the pool and on the dry ski slope, as well as a chat with the bomb disposal team. The affiliation between Faslane and the CCF goes from strength to strength, and although the contingent is not a recruitment organisation, it can certainly whet the appetite – one former cadet is currently flying Sea Kings in Afghanistan, another is training at Dartmouth after passing out in July as a sub-lieutenant RN, and another joined HMS Raleigh as a warfare specialist in early October.

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