Sea Cadet chiefs scour horizon in search for recruits and funds

ONE of Hull's oldest youth organisations is launching a recruitment drive and appealing for funding to support its work with young people.

The Hull Sea Cadets was established in 1914 and has trained generations of youngsters – many of whom have gone on to enjoy successful careers in the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines.

Some have even served with the special forces' unit – the Special Boat Service, the organisers explain.

But unlike other cadets corps, the Hull group is a self-supporting charity that gets no additional funding from parent organisations – other than uniforms that are provided by the Royal Navy.

Based at TS Iron Duke, a former Methodist church and hall in Argyle Street, named after its affiliated Royal Navy warship HMS Iron Duke, it currently has 60 cadets on its books but would like to increase this to its full complement of 100.

The corps carries out fundraising projects throughout the year to meet its 12,000 annual running costs, but is also in need of a new minibus costing about 7,000, and money to carry out long overdue refurbishments to its premises.

This year the unit is also hoping to raise an extra 3,900 to send 13 of its top cadets for additional sea training on the motor training vessel the TS John Jerwood.

Lena Slater, honorary chairman of the Hull Sea Cadets management committee, said the number of cadets enrolling had fallen in recent years because of children finding less active ways of spending their time.

She said: "We always used to get bigger numbers but a lot more children are doing more with computers now, whereas what we do with the cadets is more activity and adventure-based.

"There's a culture within young people that if it's organised we don't want anything to do with it.

"Our youngsters, you can take them anywhere and everybody says they are so polite and well behaved, but they are like everybody else's children when they are not on parade.

"We like youngsters who perhaps want a touch of adventure."

As well as preparing recruits for careers at sea, the corps uses maritime traditions to teach self-discipline, respect, the values of team spirit and practical skills that are useful in any walk of life.

Most take part in the Duke of Edinburgh's awards scheme through their community work and they can also gain formal qualifications such as a BTEC in public service.

"We are very proud of that because they do it more willingly than if they were doing it academically," said Mrs Slater.

And contrary to some perceptions of the services the cadets aspire to, half of them are girls.

Junior cadets can join at the age of 10 and become cadets two years later where they can continue their development in the corps until the age of 18.

The corps has a ranking system similar to the navy, ranging from able cadet, to leading cadet to petty officer.

Those who achieve the rank of petty officer can be considered for staff positions within the corps.

Cadets train at the centre for two-and-a-half hours, twice a week, and as well as drill, parade and marching skills learnt by all, there is a cook and stewards' section teaching basic food hygiene, how to cook and how to wait at tables, and a small marines detachment that teaches field craft and countryside skills.

Cadets will also learn canoeing and boat craft, spending 30 hours a year on a lake at Brandesburton.

But it is all aimed at encouraging young people to make a positive contribution to society.

Mrs Slater said: "Our aim is for them to be good citizens to be independent and able to look after themselves - if a youngster can cook they can live."

The cadets collect for the annual poppy appeal and are regularly engaged in community projects.

Anyone wanting to know more about joining or supporting the group can call Lena Slater on 01482 876630.