Britannia Royal Naval College has opened its charity chest and made donations to thirteen organisations

By Roger Williams in Charity

A total of £16,831.54 was presented to representatives from the Affray Memorial Association, Britannia’s Voices, CHICKS, Children’s Hospice SW, Dartmouth Baptist Church, Dartmouth Community Chest, Dartmouth & District Pool Trust, Dartmouth Sea Cadets, Kingswear 23rd Memorial MTB Flotilla, Life Foundation, Mercy Rescue Trust, Southford Schoolrooms Project and The Tracey Monument, St Clements Church, Dartmouth, who were all invited to the College to receive their donations, presented by Captain Jol Woodard, the Commanding Officer of BRNC.

The money was raised through a variety of events held at BRNC throughout the year including, a charity auction, photo calendar competition, quizzes and various other challenges organised by the Cadets.

Officer Cadets and international students have also participated in several outreach projects working at Buckfastleigh Otter and Butterfly Sanctuary and Kingswear School. In addition they have lent their support to clearing the grounds of debris at St Clements, St Saviours and St Petrox Churches, Dartmouth.

International Officer Cadets have in the past 12 months cleared large areas of overgrowth the Dawlish Nature Reserve and have also joined forces with volunteers from the local community to help move nearly half a ton of flotsam and jetsam from the breakwater in Brixham as part of Brixham’s Marine Conservation Day.

Captain Woodard said: “These charity events organised by Officer Cadets and the money raised and donated to the chosen charities along with the participation in outreach projects reinforces to the officers under training how important this aspect of their time is at the College. It also helps to strengthen the already strong bond the College has with the local community.”

Details of the donations to the various organisations are as follows:-

Dartmouth and District Pool Trust: This charity fund raised money for many years to achieve their goal of providing an indoor heated pool for the residents of Dartmouth and District. BRNC Charities with their donation of £1,450 bought much needed ancillary equipment to make the use of the pool accessible for those with specific needs. In their roll of honour BRNC is a ‘Silver Donor’ and is recorded as such on one of the pool’s windows.

Dartmouth Baptist Church: This church situated in the Townstal Estate, has been undergoing a full restoration. BRNC’s donation of £569.88 bought a projector for their main hall. This will be used for film evening, entertainment for their lunch club members and youth activities.

Dartmouth Community Chest: This Charity collects good quality second hand white goods and furniture for the use of those on low incomes. Those who need items are not charged a specific price, but asked to donate what they are able, thus alleviating the stigma of receiving charity. The £1,000 donation by BRNC helped buy a transit van which collects and delivers items.

Dartmouth Sea Cadets: This youth charity provides training for young people from 11-18 in all aspects of naval training. The gift of £1,000 enables the purchase of berths aboard the Sea Cadet Corps Training Ship ROYALIST for a week’s passage. One of the Sea Cadets said of his experience aboard TS ROYALIST: “I can honestly say that it’s been the greatest experience of my life”.

Memorial of Kingswear 23rd MTB Flotilla FNFL: During WW2 the Free French Navy together with UK personnel provided a safe route to France for the movement of members of the Resistance and other military operatives who went behind enemy lines. A donation of £200 was given to erect a memorial by the slipway of the Lower Ferry in Kingswear, to commemorate their audacious endeavours. The memorial was unveiled by Admiral Beno?t Lugan on behalf of the French Navy.

Tracey Monument: Within the graveyard of St Clement’s church, the mother church of Dartmouth and Townstal, lies a grave to Flight Cadet Ernest Osborn Tracey RAF, son of the Vicar of Dartmouth who was accidently killed whilst on duty on May 31st 1918, shortly after the foundation of the Royal Air Force. His body was brought back to Dartmouth for burial. The Keeper of the Graveyard Records said: “Although the benefaction from BRNC Charities was reasonably small (£48), we made a request which was granted. The cross which had fallen has now been restored and looks magnificent in the graveyard. How fitting that Officer Cadets from the Senior Service should come and honour one of their own age from past times”.

CHICKS: The charity based in Tavistock offers respite breaks in the South West for disadvantaged children. They have two retreats where children can have good old fashioned fun. When they leave the children are given a goody bag full of memories of their time at the retreats and when times are difficult they can look back on these and know ‘there are people who care’. CHICKS supported over 1,100 disadvantaged children last year and depend entirely on donations. Britannia Royal Naval College Charities Committee initially donated £500 with a further donation of £310.10 raised by Officer Cadets organising and taking part in a recent marathon event held at the College. For further information please visit their website www.CHICKS.ORG.UK

Children’s Hospice South West: The hospice provides specialist care and support for around 500 terminally ill children and their families in their three hospices. The contribution of £1,000 by BRNC assists with the many tens of thousands of pounds needed and raised by local fundraisers in supporting this charity. For further information please visit their website www.chsw.org.uk

The Oral History Project: Set-up under the Britannia Museum Trust at BRNC, the organisation received a donation of £750 which was used towards the cost of producing the booklet ‘Britannia’s Voices’ which compiles the memories of Naval Officer cadets who were at BRNC between 1930 and 1989. The early memories of people now in their late 80s and 90s have particular historical interest. Sixty-five former cadets were interviewed over 2012-17. Participants came from all walks of life with many varying experiences. The Oral History Project gives a feel of being on the Quarterdeck in WW2 and being on divisions with a member of the Royal Family inspecting.

HMS AFFRAY ASSN: The donation of £1,600 will provide a memorial bench in honour of the 13 Sub Lieutenants and crew who perished on April 17th 1951. Affray’s mission on leaving her berth at the Submarine base in Gosport codenamed “Training Spring” required her to carry out “simulated war exercises” unfortunately she failed to surface and was eventually located two months later in a position off Alderney in the Channel Islands. The representative whose father was one of the crew who sadly did not survive the mission said: “On behalf of the Memorial Trust I would like to thank you for the generous donation which will benefit the appearance of the very prominent Affray memorial site at Gosport”.

LIFE Foundation: A donation of £250 was given to assist with extremely poor children in Romania. The organisation provides services to children with special needs who have been abandoned. A wife of an Officer at BRNC recently went to Romania to help with the children and to give specialised advice and direction to their staff. For further information please visit their website www.thelifefoundation.co.uk

Mercy Rescue Trust: This small yet effective trust is based in Kenya and takes in local abandoned babies. The babies are then cared for until places may be found with local Kenyan Families. An Officer from BRNC has taken a group of Officer Cadets to the village where the trust is situated. Once there, the Cadets built and adventure play park, ran a holiday club and rugby sessions for some of the older children.

Southford School Rooms Project: This is one of the oldest pre-schools in the country. Seven years ago it was thought the Project would close. However a movement was founded to rejuvenate the project to redevelop and power forward. The Manager said: “We are very grateful that the entire community got behind our campaign to stay we have become an integral part of the community. We are very proud of our links with BRNC and exceedingly grateful for all the support you have given over the past years”. BRNC gave a donation of £2,000.

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