Two youngsters have enjoyed life changing experiences on land and at sea in their cadet unit’s 70th year.
TS (Training Ship) Forth Sea Cadets, based at Grangemouth Docks, were founded mid way through 1942 with the aim to instil confidence in youngsters and give them a sense of purpose.
Almost exactly seven decades later, current cadets Jonny Horn (14) and Declan O’Donnell (15) have been living up to those aims and taking full advantage of the opportunities the youth organisation gives them.
Jonny, who joined the sea cadets two years ago, was invited to take part in HMS Edinburgh’s final voyage around the UK earlier this month as the last of the Royal Navy’s Type 42 destroyers is retiring from the fleet after 30 years of service.
Known as the “Fortress of the Sea”, the ship was last used in counter-smuggling operations off West Africa and has previously patrolled waters near the Falkland Islands and in the Persian Gulf.
Jonny said: “If you get the chance then go for it. Sailing on a ship like the HMS Edinburgh is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was onboard for four days and taken on a tour of all the different departments throughout the ship and given a shot of a few things.”
Now attending TS Forth with his younger sister Maisie (12), Jonny hopes to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Moray (18), a former sea cadet who is joining the Royal Navy.
While Jonny was riding the waves, St Mungo’s High School pupil Declan was travelling to France to join hundreds of armed services personnel for the 55th Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes.
The Denny teenager said: “I was the only sea cadet there and the youngest participant - it was quite an experience. I spent time with a member of the Mercian Regiment who had lost his arm and both his legs after he stepped on a mine in Afghanistan.
“What he told me was he sees himself as a Mercian first and an amputee second. It had quite an effect on me.”
Declan, who has been a sea cadet for three years, said he is interested in going into the services himself but is not yet sure what branch of the armed forces he will choose.
TS Forth Sea Cadets gather at their HQ on Grangemouth Docks every Monday and Thursday and can usually be found on the water from May to September.
The unit, which caters to youngsters from 10 to 18, is always looking to add to their ranks and people can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (01324) 486548 for more information.