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Sea cadets providing life chances to Newham’s young people

PUBLISHED: 11:28 11 July 2016

Newham Cornwell VC Sea Cadets

Newham Cornwell VC Sea Cadets

Fran Toma

For 72 years, the Newham Cornwell VC Sea Cadets has offered young people the chance to hit the waters and learn invaluable life skills.

Named after Jack Cornwell, a 16-year-old who gave his life in the Battle of Jutland during the First World War, the cadet unit remains as committed as ever to providing character building opportunities for youngsters.

For Adam Mendrys, commanding officer, giving young people a different experience from the classroom is crucial.

“The whole reason we came into existence was to serve the local community,” he said.

“There’s not much stuff for people to do and we provide them with something and give them a base set of skills for when they become adults.

“I went into teaching for a while but I left because I felt the education system lets young people down.

“At the sea cadets, people have to face failure and it’s important that young people learn how to deal with that. The values of commitment are very important to us as well.”

Adam was a part of the Cheshunt Sea Cadets when he was younger and joined the Newham branch, which meets in Vicarage Lane, East Ham, in 2010.

“Newham was going through a rough patch and I was asked to take over because it was going to close,” he said.

“The perception was that we were a white working class boys’ club, so we spent a lot of time getting other communities to try it out and get involved.”

While the sea cadets were originally naval themed, they now offer a variety of activities like aviation and international exchanges.

“I would love to be a cadet again because of the opportunities they have,” Adam said.

The commanding officer has seen first hand how much some youngsters have benefitted from joining the Newham branch.

“I saw one boy in Asda once wearing his uniform and he told me he didn’t have any other clothes to wear,” he said.

“He’s now an officer in the navy. If he didn’t go to the cadets he could’ve have taken a different path in life.”

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