Falkirk cadet in British sail challenge
Falkirk's Darren Meaney took part in the first leg of a Round Britain sailing voyage alongside cadets and injured veterans.
Twenty cadets from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Battalion ACF, alongside seven injured veterans, took off from London in the ten-day challenge, arriving in Edinburgh on August 2.
Darren (20), now a Probationary Inspector, joined the cadets when he was 13 years old and processed through the ranks to reach Staff Sergeant.
After ageing out at 18, he decided to return as an adult instructor and has continued in that role for two years.
Darren and the rest of the crew set sail on the Lord Dannatt’s Round Britain Challenge, which is part of the centenary activities to mark the end of World War One.
The Jubilee Sailing Trust, in partnership with the Army Cadet Force and other charities has organised the voyage.
The four teams, made up of 48 injured soldiers and 96 cadets, work together to sail around Great Britain on board a specially adapted tall ship, the TS Lord Nelson, changing crew every ten days in each capital city.
A celebration of remembrance, inclusivity and diversity takes place in each of the capital cities upon arrival.
Darren and the rest of the first-leg crew arrived in Edinburgh on August 2, receiving a quarter of a wooden shield.
At the end of the voyage the final piece of the shield will be presented in London where the cadets will march with it to the Tower of London.
Darren said: “It was amazing to be part of the celebrations to mark the end of the First World War.
“It was also a privilege to take part alongside veterans with different injuries from around the country as well as the other cadets.
“The sail involved checking sails, going up the mast and making sure everything on the ship was alright.
“It was a really challenging sail.
“You’re always doing something, and there was never a quiet moment in the ten days we were sailing.”
Despite the intense work, Darren said it was an extremely rewarding experience, gaining a BTEC level 2 qualification in Teamwork and Personal Development from the sail.
From CVQO, which offers a range of vocational qualifications, the BTEC is the equivalent to four GCSEs, which converts to around four Nationals in Scotland.
As well as the qualification, Darren enjoyed the social aspect with the crew feeling more like a family when their part of the voyage was over.
He added: “It is amazing how close everyone gets after only ten days, and it felt like you were all part of the same family once we reached Edinburgh.
“Every day you were working together and eating together, and even though at the start you don’t really know anybody, by the end you could tell each other’s life stories.”
Darren’s journey may be over, but the challenge is still ongoing, with the third crew taking over in Belfast on Monday, August 13.
The voyage of remembrance, adventure and personal development is intended to test the crew’s leadership, teamwork, courage, and resilience.
The final leg culminates in London early next month, with a final stop at the Thames.