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Royal Navy Sea Scouts in the deep end at HMS Raleigh

22 February 2016
Nearly 200 young people from across the UK have taken part in the annual Royal Navy Sea Scout swimming gala held at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall.

In total 17 Royal Navy recognised Sea Scout troops and 13 Explorer Sea Scout units gathered at the Royal Navy training base in Torpoint to enter the two-day competition. 

The youngsters aged between 10 and 18-years-of-age, competed against in each other in various categories, over a range of distances. 

The overall Sea Scout winner was the team from the 4th Heswall Sea Scouts, who hail from the Wirral. For the Explorers the winning team were the 6th Itchen Explorer Sea Scout Unit from Southampton.  

Martin James, leader of the 4th Heswall Sea Scout troop, said, ”I first came to HMS Raleigh in 1975 as a scout to compete for our unit in the swimming gala. Since then I’ve been back on and off as a leader. Winning the scout section of the gala was the highlight of the weekend for us all.  

"Our Explorers came second in the under-18 age group too, which was marvellous. When we told our scouts they would have to come back next year to defend the trophy, they wanted to know if, as the winners, they could have a lie-in in the morning instead of getting up at 5.30 am.”

The event was supported by 58 Adult Leaders, some from the troops attending, others from groups who could not attend this time and also members of the Admiral Lord Nelson Scout Active Support Unit (ALNSASU).

The Sea Scouts provide a great opportunity for young people to enjoy aspects of the Royal Navy’s culture and ethos in a challenging and fun environment.

Commodore Bob Fancy

Michael Elkins, a leader with the 2nd Abingdon Sea Scouts, was in overall charge of the gala. 

He said, “Being a Royal Navy recognised troop or unit means that to gain and keep that recognition, the young people and their leaders must work hard to reach and maintain the standards required. There is a certain amount of kudos in being able to say, we are Royal Navy Recognised Sea Scouts. 

"The scheme offers opportunities for young people and their leaders to engage with the Royal Navy and take part in events and activities that they would not normally be able to access. It’s also a platform where leaders are able, through the use of the Royal Navy’ facilities, to pass on skills to both the young people and adults which lead to NGB qualifications for all. This expands the skills and knowledge base of the Royal Navy Sea Scouts and the culture of training and advancement through courses.”

Nathan Cole, assistant scout leader at the 5th Gosport Sea Scout troop, added: “Being a Royal Navy sea scout is a fantastic opportunity and we encourage our kids to make the most of all the events that the scheme offers. The relationships and friendships that they make through the regular camps can, and do, last a life time. 

"This is where the gala at Raleigh really plays a role. Quite often this is the first time a scout has been away from home so for the first five minutes they barely leave your side. However by the end of the weekend, they're running around the accommodation having a great time.”

Among the former Sea Scouts who have gone on to join the Senior Service is Captain Robert Bellfield, the current Commanding Officer of HMS Raleigh. 

He said, “My time in the 5th Woodbridge Sea Scouts, in Suffolk, helped lay the foundations for my future career in the Royal Navy. I remember we were immensely proud of being an Admiralty recognised unit.’

There are around 350 Sea Scout groups and units in the UK, 103 of which are officially recognised by the Royal Navy. Royal Navy Sea Scouts wear badges on their uniforms, fly a special pennant and wear a defaced red ensign at their headquarters and sometimes on their boats.  

Recognised units can use MOD cadet facilities and are often offered spare places on camps and courses by the Combined Cadet Force and Sea Cadet Corps. Grants are available from the Admiralty Fund administered by the Scout Association, which is topped up by the Royal Navy each year. There are at least four major annual events organised exclusively for Royal Navy Sea Scouts of which the swimming gala is one.

Responsibility for Naval Service Youth, encompassing the Sea Cadet Corps, the Volunteer Cadets Corps, the Combined Cadet Force and the Royal Navy Sea Scouts, was transferred to the command of Commodore (Cdre) Bob Fancy last year. 

Cdre Fancy is also in overall charge of initial training for all Royal Navy and Royal Marine recruits for both commissioned and non-commissioned officers.  

He said, “The Sea Scouts provide a great opportunity for young people to enjoy aspects of the Royal Navy’s culture and ethos in a challenging and fun environment. 

"As we look to bond more closely with the entirety of the Naval Cadet Force and wider youth my team are looking at ways to strengthen the Royal Navy’s relationship with the Sea Scouts and we have some exciting ideas which I hope will enable us to reach out to all Sea Scout groups."

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