INVITED guests and dignatories toured the refurbished headquarters of TS Duke of York Portrush Sea Cadets last Friday as part of the organisation’s 70th anniversary celebrations.
The move from Portrush Harbour - where the cadets commenced training in 1942, then - over the coalsheds, where Portrush Yacht Club is now situated, to their new building in Dunluce Avenue which was built by adult volunteers and cadets happened in 1960.
Fifty years later, the well-known Sea Cadet Unit, with financial assistance by application from the Youth Capital Grant Scheme by the Department of Education, the Unit Management Committee applied to the Department to upgrade the building.
The application for assistance was successful, to the tune of £130,000 and the funding was used to refurbish the entire main building, upgrading facilities for cadets and adult volunteers - new offices, galley, toilets suitable for people with disabilities, new lighting, central heating, fire and smoke alarm control systems, computer wiring throughout and, a deck area recently further fitted out with interesting nautical and Royal Navy memorabilia.
To further enhance and give much needed extra space to the headquarter refurbished facilities, the registered charity raised funding on its own, to purchase two new exterior lecture rooms - one for training Sea Cadets aged 12 to 18, the other for Portrush Sea Cadets Detachment of Royal Marines Cadets from 13 to 18 years. These fine buildings are interconnected with the central computer systems and teaching aids.
Two Lord-Lieutenants attended the tour and luncheon, joined by Captain Sea Cadets from London, the Area Officer from Rosyth, Scotland, the Senior Naval Officer Northern Ireland, the past Commanding Officer of HMS Caroline (Belfast, Royal Naval Reserves) - now Commanding Officer of HMS HIBERNIA (Lisburn, Royal Naval Reserves), The Honourable The Irish Society, two very generous benefactors - Barry Funston, Director of EMO, DCC Energy Limited - the Unit is honoured by the charitable generosity of the Company and, Wilson Briggs, Chairman and Managing Director of Alfred Briggs (Alwood) Limited.
Mr. Briggs recently donated bespoke fitted-furniture for the wardroom. There was a special ‘illuminated’ address presentation to Mr. Briggs in recognition of his generosity - a Boatswain’s (Bosun’s) Call and its history.
After the tour and presentation, Ian McCullough took his guests to 55° North Restaurant in the Unit minibus for a seafaring luncheon of gravadlax, and a special Sea Cadet ‘fish pie’.
If you have been a Sea Cadet or, would like to become one, make contact with the Unit, at 028 708 25 999 or have a look at the newly developed website, sea-cadets.org/portrush