SEA Cadets in Bury St Edmunds will tonight launch a campaign to create a state of the art headquarters.
At a ceremony in St Edmundsbury’s West Suffolk House headquarters, the Training Ship St Edmund will become the first youth group in 100 years to be honoured by being adopted as ‘The Mayor’s Own’ in support of the campaign to raise £2 million for a purpose-built centre somewhere in the town.
John French, vice-chairman of TS St Edmund, said: “Unlike a lot of youth organisations, we’ve seen a growth both in cadets and adult helpers.
“We have a complement of 50 cadets but we’re hoping that if we get enough space we can double that in a year.”
Mr French said cadets and adult volunteers could gain recognised qualifications, including national sailing qualifications and HNC in marine engineering. He stressed: “There are lots of opportunities in the Sea Cadets for progression, not just for the cadets but for everybody involved.”
Cadets also get the chance to experience naval life, like the group that visited the nuclear submarine HMS Vengeance at Faslane during half term.
They currently meet at County Upper School twice a week and have a boathouse at Lackford Lake and a workshop in Severn Road. The Sea Cadets’ building project brochure says they looked at sharing an existing building but need fixed equipment for specialist training.
The brochure adds: “We need to move away from a ‘tin shack’ mentality and build facilities which reflect the importance of young people, their development and, ultimately, their contribution to society.”
Mr French said: “It will be good for the Sea Cadets because it will allow us to develop, but it also offers a regional facility for other youth groups.
“We’re happy if other organisations want to use the facilities. That’s important because we need to think of the revenue implications of running the building. It also needs to present the right image to attract corporate events.”
It will have dormitories to allow its use by cadets from other parts of the country and will have a marine engineering workshop, garage and boat maintenance facilities. There will also be office space for the youth groups using it and a kitchen.
The building will use the latest sustainable building techniques, including a sedum roof, natural lighting to the central hall and solar panels, to reduce environmental impact and keep down running costs.
Mr French said: “We’re getting a lot of interest from developers to help us with this project and the support of St edmundsbury Borough Council has been superb.
“We really want to get the community of Bury St Edmunds to come in and support us, not just on the funding but with the technical aspects. I would like it to become a demonstration of what can be achieved in a small market town like this.”
Mr French believes the town has the expertise to develop a project like this and says the support of the community will help it gain Lottery funding.
He said they were looking at several potential sites in the town, but could not go into detail about them at the moment.
Anyone able to help the TS St Edmund building project can contact the cadet force at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01284 750352.
Anyone interested in joining the Sea Cadets, they meet at County Upper School between 7.15pm and 9.15pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Visit www.sea-cadets.org/burystedmunds