A different Trafalgar Day

The Trafalgar Day parade – one of Sea Cadets’ biggest annual events – looked a little different this year. Instead of 400 young people, just three cadets gathered on Trafalgar Square for a socially distanced commemoration, while other cadets took part virtually.

Below, we hear from those who attended the event and share some of your experiences of joining in at home, and you can scroll down to watch a video of the event.

“I’m incredibly proud to be here”

“Trafalgar day is a very important day in the Sea Cadets and Royal Navy calendars. It commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a key battle in the 19th century, which established naval supremacy for the United Kingdom for almost a century. 

“Sea cadets have been commemorating Trafalgar Day for over 100 years. Normally, more than 400 young people would parade on Trafalgar Square, demonstrating their skills and experience for members of the public to see. 

“I’m incredibly proud to be here on the square, as are all of the sea cadets, to be commemorating the event today.”

Captain Sea Cadets Captain Phil Russell RN

“It’s always an honour to play”

“Today I’ve had the honour of playing the Last Post, a traditional bugle call that represents all the fallen through conflict. 

“Hopefully I’ve done a great job. It’s always an honour to play – wearing the uniform and representing the Corps. Without having everyone else here it’s a bit weird, but hopefully they’re tuning in to watch it virtually.   

“For me, Trafalgar Day is about seeing friends. I’m part of the Massed Bands of the Sea Cadets and it’s our big gig of the year. Normally we’d be in a big massed band, playing music, having a marching display. It’s our chance to get together and do what we love to do: play music.” 

Leading Cadet Callum, Folkestone and Hythe Sea Cadets 

“Thank you for staying safe”

“Even though this Trafalgar Day is different, this is a time of demonstrating what we stand for, our values. When we parade together it brings everyone together to show the public and the country what we do.

“Trafalgar Day would normally involve so many of us all together in our good-looking attire and getting ready to pay our respects. 

“The most fun part is definitely the march down The Mall, past Buckingham Palace, and that normally happens with tremendous music from the cadet band. 

“This year, there are still similarities in that solidarity. We are used to being all together as one large unit, but even so, being able to represent Sea Cadets is still an honour. Just to be here today, representing the Royal Marines Cadets and the wider Sea Cadets Corps, even in this slightly modified ceremony, is more than humbling. It will stay with you for life and you can look over your cadet years and say, ‘I did that.’

“To all the cadets out there, I’m very glad to see you are all commemorating Trafalgar Day in your own way, at home or at school. Your time as a cadet and your respect today have not gone unnoticed and all the time and effort you have put in is evident.

“Even during the lockdown period and the time of Virtual Sea Cadets, there’s been so much progression among cadets. All of us are proud of ourselves and of each other. Even though all the cadets are not here today, we thank you for staying safe and taking care of others around you. 

“Thank you so much for being here for this virtual parade, for the time you’ve taken throughout the lockdown period and here today.”

First Sea Lord Cadet Sergeant Laurelle, Waltham Forest Sea Cadets

“It’s strange but it’s still enjoyable”

“I take part in Trafalgar Day every year, but it’s been kind of different this time – because of COVID, only three of us were selected to attend, which is strange but it’s still enjoyable. 

“I felt excited and proud when I knew I was to be one of the select few attending the event and laying the wreath. 

“Laying the wreath is an important role to have. My brothers and sisters who are in the cadet forces have also laid the wreaths, and when he was in service to his country my dad also laid the wreaths, not here but in Nigeria. So I think that it’s a good thing that runs in my family and I’m happy that I can carry on the tradition.” 

Leading Cadet Shaun, Greenwich, Deptford and Rotherhithe Sea Cadets

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