Twickenham sea cadets ranked best UK unit

The Twickenham sea cadets have won the Canada trophy, the highest accolade for the best unit in the country.

The coveted trophy is due to be presented for the first time to the Twickenham unit in the next couple of weeks.

The unit, named Training ship (TS) Saumarez, which is situated off Broom Road in Teddington have beaten all 47 London units for three consecutive years, and are now ranked first out of 450 units nationwide, and sixth globally.

PROUD AS PUNCH: Commanding Officer Martyn Mayger with cadets Henri Dulis and Lacey McGowan. Credit: Ina Pace.

Commanding Officer Martyn Mayger, also a Lieutenant Commander and navigator in the Royal Navy said: “I am absolutely delighted for the cadets and voluntary staff at TS Saumarez.”

“To be named best in the UK is just the most amazing tribute to their collective enthusiasm, hard work and dedication.”

Mayger emphasises the organisational and administrative efforts of the 9,000 volunteers who help self-fund the unit that costs £45,000 a year to run.

The cadets, of which there are 40-50 per year aged 10-18, support the unit through their memberships fees of £25 per month, otherwise the unit is supported mostly by donations, and by hiring out their venue, usually for boxing classes or dog training.

EVERYTHING HERE HAS A STORY: Applicants receive a tour prior to enrollment, yellow flags in the background indicate rankings each year. Credit: Ina Pace.

Coming to Twickenham in 1947, TS Saumarez accepted only boys up to 1992, the same year the unit ranked second in the UK.

Mayger says: “Our drive and mission is to promote boys and girls to traditional adulthood and good citizenship by developing leadership skills and self-confidence with a comradery focus.”

“We push their boundaries and make them realise what they’re capable of.”

“They learn the importance of listening and accepting feedback constructively.”

Cadets have a six week probationary period before enrolment when they are assigned a mentor of a similar age to guide them.

They have classroom based lessons from age 10 about the make-up of community, then practical training from age 12 after a three month initiation period.

Their training includes etiquette lessons over candle-lit dinners, parading, orienteering, rock-climbing, and workshops in first aid and seamanship, such as powerboating and sailing, for which they can earn nationally recognised qualifications from the Royal Yachting Association (RYA).

HANDS ON ORGANIC TRAINING: Orienteering and parading. Credit: Twickenham Sea Cadets. Rope hauling with Chief Putty Officer Peter Gallon. Credit: Ina Pace.

At ages 17-18 cadets lead presentations on how to deliver lessons, and learn interview skills.

They are promoted through their ranks according to their individual paces, once a year on average.

Though approximately 10% of the cadets in TS Saumarez opt to join the Navy, Mayger emphasises this is not the reason the unit exists.

The cadets’ self-discipline and skill exploration is most notable.

Cadets such as Henri Dulis, 16, have taught themselves bugling, bosun (naval) whistling, and drumming for parades, and go on to represent their fellow cadets at national level competitions.

Dulis was also hand-picked to play at a remembrance service for the secretary of state for education in November in Whitehall.

Dulis says: “Leadership skills are the main thing I have developed as a cadet.”

“We all turn out to be structured and quite disciplined, always having a plan to adapt.”

Cadet Lacey McGowan, 14, is training to be a kayak instructor having come 4th in nationals last year, and having never taken any interest prior to Mayger’s encouragement to start paddle sports.

Mayger says of McGowan: “We’ve planted a seed here.”

THE VENUE: The oldest part of the unit dates back to the early Edwardian era- the servants’ quarters to a manor house, and the Flag of the Second Sea Lord, lying low on a still day. Credit: Ina Pace.

As Canada Trophy holders, TS Saumarez is permitted by the Royal Navy to fly the Vice Admiral’s Flag of the Second Sea Lord, the second most senior officer in the Navy.

The flag is now at the top of the unit’s riverfront mainmast where it will remain up for the rest of the year.

Featured image credit: Twickenham sea cadets.

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