During my recent visit to Reading Sea Cadets to talk to Kieran, I was also able to speak to another of the units volunteers. Antoinette told me about her various roles and why she is so passionate about her voluntary work.
How did you get involved in volunteering with the Sea Cadets?
My youngest daughter was a sea cadet, and I started as an adult volunteer four and a half years ago when they asked for extra adults to come and help, and I’ve worked my way from there.
What does the volunteering involve?
Numerous tasks… I’m the Stores officer, so I issue all the uniforms for marines as well as cadets; I’m the one who’s responsible for Portsmouth for what we’re issued; I issue uniforms to new cadets when they start; I order the badges when they’ve got qualifications, and make sure we’ve got all the badges and bits to issue to everybody. I also order the adult and staff members uniforms.
I’m also the admin officer, so I’m responsible for things like the register and sending notes to parents. I also help with booking cadets on courses and making sure they’ve got their permission to train. I help with paperwork for their courses, chasing up payments and making sure they’ve got their travel arrangements.
In January I took over as first lieutenant and executive officer, so I’m now second in charge responsible for all (35) Sea Cadets. I keep sort of gathering jobs!
What do you get out of doing the volunteering?
I love the fact that I get to do what the kids do. Two weekends ago, I went off and did my canoeing course, with cadets on the same course , so I get to gain qualifications which then I can bring back to the unit and help them with, so it gives me something to do, but it’s also giving – it’s giving something back.
“You feel a real sense of achievement when you see these kids that come in; some of them are so quiet, and you watch them grow from that”
Both my girls; one was an army cadet, one was a sea cadet (one is now staff); they got a lot out of it. I see me giving back to someone else’s children.
If a friend or colleague was thinking about volunteering, what would you suggest?
Do it, definitely. Regardless to whether it’s for this or any other organisation, you get so much out of it for giving up a little bit of your time. When I look at, you know, the time I give up but what I get back out of it, it’s fantastic.
Because volunteering involves people from all different walks of life, you build a network and friendship group of people from all different places, and it’s brilliant. I love it.
I’ve had opportunities that I would never in my wildest dreams thought I would’ve had through the fact that I volunteer, and I’ve met people and now have very good friends across great walks of life that normally in your day-today life you’d never come across.
The Sea Cadets Unit is run entirely by volunteers who help in many different ways, from training cadets to applying business skills to support the Unit. Do you have skills you could offer?