Medway Victory Sea Cadets, which comprises of Year 7, 8 and 9 pupils from Holcombe Grammar School and The Victory Academy, spent a fantastic October half term at HMS Raleigh in Torpoint, Cornwall. HMS Raleigh is the Royal Navy’s new entry training establishment.
The Cadets set off early on Friday 18th October, at 4:45am, arriving in time to participate in sporting activities just before dinner. Mealtimes were held in the ‘Mess’, which was about 750m away, up a hill, and cadets had to be in uniform and had to march to and from all meals. A tannoy woke up the cadets at 6am every morning and inspections took place of cleaning stations twice a day. Cadets were able to put in requests for the genre of music they were to be woken up to; there were some surprising choices!
On Saturday, the Cadets visited Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park and completed a question and answer orienteering course which enabled them to learn about the country park as well as local history; Cadets learned about air raids in the area in World War II intended to close down the port and shipyard. Cadets did physical training and played sports in the evening. They also had a presentation regarding the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Sea Cadets are expected to complete the Bronze Award in Year 9.
Sunday, Cadets went coasteering around Rame Head, which included swimming into caves and jumping off of ever higher perches into the swell. It was cold and rough, but also exciting and empowering. In the evening they were joined by other cadets from all over the country who were there to attend various national courses. Everyone worked to get their uniforms ready for inspection and ensuring a high shine was noticeable on their boots.
On Monday (which was the start of the official course) Cadets completed an assault course and had to march all the way back from the course soaking wet, boots filled with muddy water. They did themselves proud, remaining positive and determined. In the afternoon they visited the Phase 1 New Entry Training facilities to see how training is carried out after joining the Royal Navy as a rating, followed by a guided tour of the Submarine School, where they were able to view Tomahawk Cruise missiles. In the evening the cadets enjoyed swimming at the pool back at the base.
The next day cadets had a tour of Plymouth Harbour. They had the opportunity to steer the ship and listen to an explanation on the Royal Navy ships. In the afternoon they went tenpin bowling in Plymouth, then played a game of rounders. Cadets were given the opportunity to study ‘damage control’ where they had to fill in holes in the side of a compartment to stop water pouring in. They then had the opportunity to practice firefighting and learned to put out fires using foam fire extinguishers and fire hoses. In the evening, Cadet PTIs ran the PT and sport session in the sports complex on site. It was great practice for the PTIs, and provided an interesting activity for all the cadets.
Cadets worked through the sea survival course on Thursday, which involved having to jump into a swimming pool with a self-inflating life jacket, then climb into a life raft. This was challenging but rewarding, requiring them to take risks, be brave and learn their own strengths. Finally, cadets went indoor rock climbing, then relaxed in the evening with games such as Charades.
Friday morning saw the cadets woken early (5:45am) as they had to be packed and ready by 6:30 for the journey home. The course was very demanding with many exciting new experiences but lots of fun too.
Holcombe Grammar’s Cadet French said: ‘The week away to HMS Raleigh in Cornwall was excellent! I had a great time & look forward to the next trip away. Whilst there we did coasteering (jumping off cliffs and swimming in the sea), an assault course, a harbour tour, tenpin bowling, firefighting, Clip ‘n’ Climb and damage control (simulating being on a sinking ship!). We also got a taste of Navy life as we slept in a mess deck, were woken very early and had to march to meals in full cadet uniform! It was a jam-packed week, was very tiring, but lots of fun!’
Cadet Park said: ‘Up nice and early at 4.30 to begin the seven hour journey to Cornwall. After catching up on some well needed sleep, we arrived at Raleigh to do some exercise to wake us up, then a film night to end a long day. The next day, a march to breakfast woke us up, then we set off to Mount Edgcumbe. It was a very good experience which involved lots of walking and was very interesting. The next day was one of my favourite days of the week: coasteering. It was an action-packed, challenging adventure I will most likely never do again, I am very proud of what I accomplished. Then came the soggiest day of all – the assault course. It was high, wet, muddy and exhausting. I am proud that I got through it and will probably never do something quite so muddy again. The soggy march back was also quite an experience. The next day we went out for a tour of the harbour, where we got to drive a boat! Later we got to relax and go bowling, which was just to have some fun. Wednesday was my favourite day: firefighting and damage control at the Triumph Squadron. The HMS Chaos was an experience I can relate to, and it was challenging but fun. Finally, on Thursday we did our sea survival training which was very exhausting but fun, and we finished our last day at Raleigh with Clip ‘n’ Climb, which was really good!’