STORK CHISWICK SEA CADET UNIT NO 623
Since writing my last report in November 2001, when things were in dire straits being out of the Pier House during the refurbishment and with numbers dwindled down to just 5 cadets, life at T.S Stork has improved dramatically in many ways in the ensuing year.
We moved back into the new, improved Pier House in the New Year and with this we set about a determined effort of recruitment, which unfortunately did not bear fruit prior to our Inspection in May but has since the beginning of the summer. Our boats all returned from their refurbishment in good working order and newly painted ready for the onslaught. The Inspection report in May, whilst fair was not outstanding, but we managed to hold the reprieve from closure we were looking for. As always the Area Officer seemed to enjoy the imaginative evolution the handful of cadets put on for him, despite them forgetting the teabag to make him his cup of tea in a billycan in the camping scenario and him stepping in doggy poo en route back to the Unit! The first of our many recruits came from a young man lurking in the bushes watching the goings on that evening!
June saw a concerted recruitment effort with Flag Day spent collecting and recruiting, press releases hitting the local rag at every turn, the Unit website extolling the virtues of Sea Cadetting, a Cocktail Party for community dignitaries and by the time I was invited to the studios of Riverside FM at the beginning of August our numbers were up to 12. Currently the numbers on the books stand at 18, however only 14 are regularly attending. That said, I am pleased with the progress we have made thus far and the Cadets are keen and this generates its own recruitment as they spread the word amongst their friends, particularly as they begin to realise that they need 5 in each age group to compete in most of the competitions such as 5-aside football and the pulling regatta etc.
On the staffing side things are worse than they were and about to get worse still. PO Gemma Lane nee Edwards transferred to Gosport Unit in the New Year with her move to Portsmouth following her marriage to Peter in November last year. PO Nerys Pearce transferred to Kingston Unit and is in the process of moving into the Marine Cadet Corps (a move which was long planned and had my blessing for her personal development). Both are sorely missed, particularly as this has left me as sole female on the staff and the impending birth of my first child in March will have an even bigger impact on this situation in the New Year as I take time out on maternity leave. This leaves Lt Grogan and PPO Flann, with POC Pearce turning 18 on the 29th March 2003 as the next up and coming staff member. This, and the question of command whilst I am on maternity leave are the burning issues now, particularly as the Unit has grown and I do not want all our hard work lost due to staffing problems.
On the Cadet front, Gaynor Pearce was promoted to POC in November last year and has had an excellent year winning the John Underhay Award for best cadet in the District and being appointed Deputy Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for Hounslow South. She attended BRNC Summer camp at Dartmouth with an outstanding report which has brought yet more accolades and nominations for top national awards for the forthcoming year. There have been promotions apiece for all the longer standing cadets and boating qualifications and Class 3 Specialisations are all being worked on as we speak. The aim and objectives of training, as we have welcomed new cadets almost weekly through the summer, have been those of introducing them to a bit of everything and having lots of fun which whilst this does not necessarily bring huge results on paper, has kept the interest going and the retention of the recruits has been crucial to our plans. We now move into Phase 2 where performance now plays its part with the next Inspection fast approaching and the emphasis comes on skills, qualifications, badges and points earned. That said the longer standing cadets have been out and about training in various skills attending Area PT, drill and sailing courses and AC Codsi attending National Summer Camp.
On the Competition front the beginning of the year was understandably quiet with only the Power Boat Handling entered. The crew did their best on the day and held their own in a strong competition. District Athletics brought home a few medals and District, Area and National Canoeing saw POC Pearce excelling bringing the first Canoeing medal back to London from Nationals for the first time in years!!! Latterly with increased numbers the District ET Competition and Swimming Gala were entered into with enthusiasm and vigour, and whilst not winning on the Team effort, POC Pearce again came good, winning the Leadership Trophy at the ET competition and selected for the Inter-Services Swimming Gala this weekend coming.
As always when it comes to ceremonial occasions T.S. Stork always has at least one representative wearing our cap tally and in this the Jubilee year there were no exceptions. I attended the Ironmongers Dinner at their Hall in the City in January and AC Codsi took part in the St George’s Day Parade in Whitehall at the beginning of the year. The Jubilee Parade down the Mall and past Buckingham Palace was a day to remember for POC Pearce, AC Codsi, PO Pearce and myself. Trafalgar Day saw POC Pearce and myself in our best blues again for a parade which whilst a little damp was not rained off as it was in 2001.
Locally we have been seen helping with Foreshore Cleanups, assisting with environmental surveys of Chiswick Eyot, doing safety boat cover for London Corinthian Sailing Club, flying the flag (and recruiting) at Boat Race Day and the Pier Day, assisting the British Legion at their Summer Fair and most recently participating in the Remembrance Day Parade at Turnham Green. The comments from all parties associated with the Remembrance Day Parade have been most favourable and with 14 cadets and 3 staff fully booted and spurred we put on the best show we have in some years. One of the big results of the parade is an invite from Anne Keen, MP to join her for a tour of, and tea at, the Houses of Parliament in the New Year!
We come to the year end with a buoyant Unit of the Cadet front with plans to enter the 5-Aside Football and Drill competitions in the very New Year for the first time in some years thanks to sufficient numbers. This situation has not just happened by itself and I thank all the staff for their huge efforts this year. To sustain this growth (and there will be more) there are several areas which need urgent attention; namely staffing and the leadership question, a substantial committee, parental support and financial solvency! These issues are not the responsibility of the uniformed members of the Unit (they will help in any way of course), they are yours - please help us the uniformed staff training and developing the adults of the future in our tasks!!!!!
I always finish my report with reference to the Stork, well she is flying again if a little tentatively, but the nest is rather badly in need of feathering and the chicks need support and nurturing whilst finding their wings again!
(SCC) Lynn Mac Iver RNR
of this? Aged between 12 - 15 years? Chiswick Sea Cadets meet on Wednesdays
19:30 - 21:30 and Sundays 11:00 - 15:30 at the Chiswick Pier House, Corney
Reach Way, Chiswick. Come and join us!