New sea cadets unit set to launch... 100 miles from coast

Editorial image
Editorial image
  • Town councillor closing in on dream to bring a sea unit to Brackley
  • His sailor dad survived a torpedo attack during the Second World War
  • The new unit needs volunteers to get off the ground

A former sea cadet whose dad survived a Second World War torpedo attack is close to bringing a specialist unit to Brackley - even though the town is 100 miles from the sea.

Town councillor Don Thompson grew up with his dad’s stories from sea and spent time as a cadet himself in the 1960s.

But after noticing a lack of a Navy presence at a remembrance day six years ago, Mr Thompson floated the idea to Northants and Leicestershire Sea Cadets.

If the unit attracts a team of volunteers to run the group, young cadets will be up and rowing by this summer.

Mr Thompson said: “It is something that is very close to me and the idea has been my baby for a while now.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity. It reminded me of everything sea cadets did for me.

“My dad, Victor, was one of just 30 to survive the attack on HMS Royal Oak in 1939 and he served in the Navy for 25 years.

“There are some very valuable life lessons you can learn and it’s slightly different to other cadets.

“You build an independence because, at sea, you can’t just walk into B&Q to get what you need.”

Mr Thompson approached lieutenant commander Christopher Read who oversees 10 units across Northants, with the idea of bringing one to Brackley.

Cadet Don Thompson in the 1960s

Cadet Don Thompson in the 1960s

The town’s youngsters, aged 10 to 18, could soon be sailing, rowing and windsurfing while completing qualifications in nautical training and seamanship.

Lakes in Banbury and Northampton along with Calvert Reservoir will host the watersports with trips to Portsmouth in the pipeline.

Mr Read, who is hosting an open evening next week, said: “We are hoping there is some enthusiasm to work with young people.

“There’s a huge gap between Banbury and Northampton so we want to bring a unit to Brackley which serves places like Towcester and Silverstone too.

It’s a wonderful opportunity. It reminded me of everything sea cadets did for me”

Don Thompson

“But there really is something for everyone with roles ranging from admin to instructors, so we are encouraging as many people as possible to attend the open night and see what we do.”

The open evening is on Thursday, March 19 from 7.30pm at Brackley Town Hall or email