AT a time when youngsters are regularly vilified for congregating on street corners and causing problems with antisocial behaviour, many people say there is not enough for them to do. Well, there is – and the sea cadets corps might be just the way to encourage the next generation to do something constructive with its spare time.
Staines and Egham Sea Cadets, currently based at the Bridge Street car park beside Staines Bridge, are keen to attract new members.
Before teenagers start yawning and looking bored, perhaps its worthwhile considering that by joining the cadets, youngsters will get the chance to have a go at things as diverse as sailing, canoeing, shooting and abseiling as well as being given a glimpse into the workings and traditions of Britain’s oldest military force – the Royal Navy.
Staines corps commander Steve Bennett is quick to point out that while his organisation is a charitable one, it does derive some of its funding from the navy and it is a uniformed organisation which instils and expects discipline from its members.
“We take kids from all backgrounds,” he told me, “both girls and boys, and we try to give them exciting and interesting things to do while teaching them how to work as a team.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to do things they might not otherwise have the chance to experience.”
Spelthorne Cllr Caroline Spencer who is a member of the corps management committee, is also looking for adults to get involved with the group.
“There’s a small group of us who help to manage the corps,” she says, “but we’re keen to attract more people to help – it means giving up a couple of hours once a month. It’s a very rewarding experience.”
The Staines unit will be moving into temporary premises at the Lammas at the beginning of January and I’ll do a more detailed piece about their activities at that point. In the meantime, if you’re interested in finding out more about them, pop along to the Bridge Street carpark building any Tuesday or Thursday evening between 7.30-9.30pm.
ANOTHER veteran of the Upper Thames Patrol has contacted me following my previous Riverwatch on the exploits of this wartime band who guarded our locks and weirs.
Denis Andrews, who now lives in Shepperton, called to say at the age of 15 he joined the patrol and spent much of his time guarding Teddington Lock.
He said: “We used to be on duty from 7pm until 6am which was a long old spell but we felt we were doing our bit for the war effort.”
Denis, 83, also recalled that life in the UTP could have its dangers and added: “We were sitting in our headquarters building at Turk’s in Kingston and one member of the group, Corporal Walker, was unloading his rifle when it went off and the flash from the muzzle burnt my coat. The bullet must have missed me by inches.”
FINALLY, I couldn’t let this week go by without marking the fact that the Environment Agency has seen sense and abandoned its ridiculous plan to sell off some of our lock-keeper’s cottages. After howls of protest – from this column in particular – the Agency has now announced that it would be best served by keeping lock-keepers close to their locks. Brilliant!