The Bermuda Sea Cadet Corps took part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant today [June 3], joining over 1,000 other vessels of all descriptions. In front of an estimated television audience of 3.5 billion, the Bermuda Cadets joined 260 of their UK counterparts and a crew of Hong Kong Sea Cadets in commemorating Her Majesty’s 60 year reign.
The crew of five Bermuda Sea Cadets manned one of the 55 Trinity 500 Sea Cadet dinghies in a diamond formation, travelling the full length of the nearly 10 mile Thames Pageant route, along with over 1,000 other vessels of all descriptions. Each of the Sea Cadet dinghies was allocated a flag of one of the Commonwealth nations, with the formation led by a dinghy carrying the Commonwealth flag.
Carrying the flag of Rwanda as part of this symbolic Commonwealth procession, the Bermuda Sea Cadets proudly represented themselves, the Bermuda Sea Cadet Corps and Bermuda itself, enthusiastically waving their own Bermuda flag for the benefit of the spectators at every opportunity.
Lt. Michael Frith, the senior escort officer for the Bermuda contingent, stated, “These Bermuda Cadets were selected for this event, not just from among their fellow cadets in Bermuda, but out of all 16,000 of their fellow cadets throughout Great Britain and Northern Ireland, to take part in this historic Commonwealth display.
“During the Pageant, and throughout the training both in Bermuda and in the UK, they proved themselves to be very capable, and carried out all that was required of them safely and efficiently. Their hard work, and their participation in this historic event is something that they are rightly very proud of. Certainly, I extremely proud of them. ”
The Pageant itself was over two years in the making, with the UK Sea Cadets Headquarters staff being almost exclusively focused on the logistics for the event for the past twelve months.
Lt. Frith noted that, “The logistical challenges associated with organising an event of this scale are unbelievable, and the UK staff really did an exceptional job. They had more than 400 personnel to coordinate, in a very short space of time, and managed to do it all with a smile. The fact that most of the staff are volunteers makes it all the more extraordinary.”
All 400 personnel taking part in the Pageant, whether as crew or support staff, were accommodated at a community college and Royal Marine Reserve base in Wandsworth, and all of the dinghies and associated equipment used in the Pageant had to be transported to that location from throughout the UK.
The Friday evening before the Pageant was extremely busy as all cadets, dinghies and equipment arrived and were accommodated and stored as necessary. The RMR base served as the logistics and training centre for the Sea Cadets, with transport vehicles and dinghies being stored and moved to the launch site from that centre.
With dozens of support staff coordinating the effort, the process was completed just in time for a dawn start on the Saturday, when the boats were launched and cadets given an opportunity to train together on the Thames. The dinghies were then moored overnight, and the cadets returned to the RMR centre for a final briefing and a chance to relax.
On the morning of the Pageant, all of the cadets made their way, en masse and on foot, from the RMR centre, to the launch site at Hurlingham Yacht Club. They then crewed their dinghies to their allocated Pageant start point in Putney, where final equipment checks were made, Commonwealth flags fixed, and Cadets given a chance to stretch their legs before the 10 mile Pageant journey began.
When the Pageant started promptly at 2.40pm GMT, the Sea Cadets were ready, in their diamond formation, and started to make their way with the procession. Waving and cheering the millions of spectators lining the banks of the Thames, the Cadets clearly enjoyed the experience, while at all times maintaining their close formation.
Starting from their staging point in Putney, the Sea Cadets crossed under no less than 18 bridges, through the heart of London past Battersea Park, Westminster, the Tower of London and on to their disembarkation point in Greenwich.
Susan Outerbridge, who travelled with the Bermuda Cadets and watched from a prime vantage point on Chelsea Bridge, stated, “those Sea Cadets, all of them, did an amazing job. It brought tears to my eyes to see all of their hard work pay off, and to see them represent themselves so proudly in this commemoration of the Queen’s 60 years.
“To see all of them, and our Bermuda Sea Cadets in particular, respond so maturely and skillfully to all of the challenges thrown at them this weekend, well, it just makes me so proud, and reminds me that the Sea Cadet Corps has so much to offer young people looking to develop themselves as disciplined young adults.”
The Cadets were led by their coxswain, Leading Cadet Morgan Outerbridge, ably assisted by Leading Cadet Ani Douglas as Navigator. Able Cadet Samuel Bennett took the bow position, Cadet Jaeden Johnston also assisted as crew, and Petty Officer Ian Frith served as the adult Crew Supervisor. Able Cadet Charles Marshall assisted as crew on one of the safety boats responsible for the flotilla of Sea Cadet dinghies.
Upon return from the disembarkation point in Greenwich, PO Frith and the Cadet crew were wet, cold and exhausted, but had smiles on their faces. Coxswain Morgan Outerbridge said simply, “it was awesome!” and his crew clearly agreed, as they headed off for a well-deserved hot shower and meal.
The Bermuda Cadets will now enjoy two days of sightseeing in London, along with their UK host cadets, before returning to Bermuda on Wednesday evening, their place in history secured.