Case study

John Challenger talks about the importance of doing his bit to help other cadets

Sea cadet John Challenger was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to young people during Covid-19.

Sea cadet John Challenger being awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) dressed in full service uniform.

Caption: Sea cadet John Challenger was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to young people during Covid-19. MOD Crown Copyright.

Have you ever thought of becoming a cadet in one Wales’ cadet units?

John Challenger, 17, explains why he thought it was so important to keep the 2,300 sea cadets spread across North Wales and the North West together during the pandemic.

He said:

I believe that many young people have struggled with mental health, feeling unable to balance school work, cadets and keeping in touch with family and friends. However, the Sea Cadets worked hard to reduce these difficulties for staff and cadets by building up networks of support that stretch throughout the country and aimed to help us all through this challenging time.

John, 17, who joined the Sea Cadets at the age of ten, and is the senior cadet in the region known as ‘First Sea Lord Cadet’ devised and ran a weekly virtual quiz, engaging with over 300 cadets during the early weeks of lockdown.

He also led the other senior cadets through on-line Cadet Forums in communicating with each other, discussing issues of mutual concern and on feeding back issues to the management of the Sea Cadet Corps both nationally and in the North West.

We all faced new and difficult challenges due to Covid-19 and had to learn new techniques to provide training for cadets virtually. By forcing us to relocate onto online training the pandemic has made us more resilient as an organisation and allowed us to develop our communication skills.

In addition, it has made us all more empathetic towards each other and has allowed us to learn about delivering training through a new and inventive medium, something which may continue even after the restrictions loosen.

Admiral Tony Radakin CB ADC, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, said:

This is an outstanding achievement at such a young age and a real example of the importance of the Sea Cadet Corps. John has demonstrated the qualities of selflessness, dedication and teamwork that epitomise the whole of the Royal Navy family, and he has helped so many young people in North Wales, the North West and across the UK at a difficult time.

Published 2 March 2021