Public urged to provide leadership for young
The Commander of the Sea Cadets has called on the public to support the programme and ensure that as many young people benefit as possible.
Speaking to the Hamilton Rotary Club, Michael Frith said that the programme has dwindled since he was a cadet, with two units closing their doors over the years.
“We now have only one unit, TS Admiral Somers in St George’s — and make no mistake, that unit truly is thriving — but we need to do more,” he said.
“We need to ensure that, somehow, we can extend the Sea Cadet experience throughout the island. Maybe that means reopening shuttered units, maybe there is another solution.
“We don’t yet know. But what we do know is that we need your help to do it.”
Mr Frith said that while sailing forms a major part of the programme curriculum, the Sea Cadet programme is about far more than enjoying the island’s waters.
“Our aim is not to create a class of master mariners — although we have guided a few to that goal,” he said. “Rather, the purpose of the boating — and all of the seamanship skills and discipline that go with it — is to present a challenge to our cadets.
“Some may be boaters, some may not, but through boating we are able to show them that if they work hard as individuals, and as a team; if they take responsibility for themselves, and for their shipmates; if they meet the challenge, they will achieve things that they did not think themselves capable of. They become better, stronger individuals, and better, more engaged and positive members of their community.”
He said the programme is for both boys and girls, and the organisation had been working to increase the number of female cadets.
Mr Frith said that 29 cadets and junior cadets were enrolled in the programme, who each take part in an average of 130 hours of parade training per year and between 50 and 150 hours of extra training for some members. On top of that, cadets are expected to undertake more than 80 hours of community service per year. Despite the challenges, he said that on average cadets stay in the programme for more than five years, with an increasing number remaining in the Sea Cadets for eight years.
“We are very confident that we are providing an excellent experience for our cadets,” he said.
“And we are excited about that, because the reason we do this is to ensure that our cadets get that excellent experience. It’s why we volunteer our time to do what we do; our goal, our passion, is to help the cadets to become leaders.
“And that’s a key point — and here’s where I begin to challenge you all — because cadets do not simply become leaders; they must be led.
“In order for them to learn our core values, the values that we believe make a good leader, they must be led by those who exhibit those very values.”
However, he said that success requires the hard work of numerous volunteers, who dedicate an average of three hours of work for every hour of cadet training, and money.
“Funding is essential,” Mr Frith said. “We do what we do for no pay, but funding is nonetheless needed to pay for our equipment, maintenance and training activities. We are reliant on our own fundraising and donations, and we are very grateful for the financial support we do receive from the community.
“We need more. But what we really need is your time. We need you to step forward and provide the leadership these Cadets need — and deserve. We need you to help manage finances, fix roofs, organise fundraisers, maintain records, transport cadets.
“Whether behind the scenes or in front of a parade, we need your help. We need you to be leaders.”