Proud to parade

The National Trafalgar Day Parade is one of our biggest events. Some of those who were there share their experiences of taking part

Cdt LCpl Gurtej (15), Sutton Coldfield Unit, Drum Major

“I participated in Trafalgar Day for the first time this year. I was the drum major and have been training for about five months. As the day approached I experienced mixed emotions: feeling proud to be selected for this event; excited to be going to London and marching down the famous parade route; and nervous to represent my unit and myself at such an important national event. Trafalgar Day is important to me as it is a reminder of previous battles that were fought to keep us safe.”

JC Anisia (11), Portsmouth Unit

“It’s my first Trafalgar Day, so I’m feeling really excited. I am most looking forward to the skip jump dance it’s also what I’m most nervous about! Trafalgar Day is important for remembering our history. And it’s really fun to meet cadets from other units.”

MC Harry Dunkley (17), Walsall Unit  

“This is my first national Trafalgar Day Parade. I’m feeling a bit nervous, as it’s a great honour to be involved and one of the best things you can do as a sea cadet. Especially not living in the London area, the chance to parade somewhere I normally go sightseeing is very exciting! I’ve been polishing my boots for about a fortnight. I normally keep my uniform ready and my CO comments that I have a high standard, but I have put extra effort in for this parade.”

LC Ollie (15), Sefton Unit, Physical Training display

“This is my first time taking part in the Trafalgar Day Parade. I am excited to be here. I am a bit nervous due to the crowds and the scale of the parade. I’m on the Physical Training team so we will be doing a performance. I don’t do PT too often and am not the best but we have had three days of training to get prepared.”

PO Cdt Kori (17), Poole Unit, Drum Major

“This is my third time and I’ve been lucky to do something different every year. For my last couple of Trafalgar Days I’ve been involved in the drill or parade. I was very excited and honoured this year to lead the Guard Band as drum major. Of course I’m going to be a bit nervous as there is so much I have to think about, including my personal drill, music cut-offs and leading the band.

“Planning and preparation is a year-long process. As soon as this week is done our area will already be thinking about training for next year’s parade. Over the last year I have been learning the music and understanding how it flows. We get two days before the event to rehearse and make final tweaks, which gives everyone the chance to combine as one band. During the last evening and the morning of the event tensions are high. People are nervous. It is really important to remain focused and just be yourself.

“I am so grateful for this opportunity. At any point in your Sea Cadets career you can still learn something new. Having a different role this year led to me understanding the importance of the massed band and how my role can make a difference. This Sea Cadets tradition is a truly special experience. It brings everyone together and I’m very proud to be part of it.”

cadets marching in trafalgar day parade

Louise Cowling, volunteer and former cadet at Sefton Unit, solo singer

“I think this year was my seventh time performing at Trafalgar Day! The first year that I sang alone at Trafalgar Day was in 2018, I was really honoured to be asked and was quite nervous! I was thrilled to come back for last year’s parade, the first one since Covid. I don’t get too nervous anymore, I just really enjoy the atmosphere and find the whole day such a celebration of Sea Cadets.”

PO (SCC) Megan, Tewkesbury Unit, Unit Armoury Controller

“A lot of preparation goes into today, we’ve been here since Thursday evening and it’s been non-stop training in the pouring rain – but the weather is great today and hopefully all the training will pay off! The volunteers have been running around trying to get everyone ready and provide support – for some of the cadets it’s their first time away from home. 

“It’s hard work but it’s worth it. I was a cadet myself and having seen what the volunteers did for us when I was a cadet, it’s great to pass it on and see cadets really benefitting from it. That makes it all worthwhile.”

LC Tyler (17), Lincoln Unit, Guard

“I have taken part in Trafalgar Day at my unit every year since I joined Sea Cadets, at the age of 10, except throughout Covid. I started out marching with my unit, then progressed to joining the guard as I had drill experience. The excitement has never changed. I have always loved the build-up – preparing my uniform and putting it on. It’s the pride that makes the long time on my feet worth it! Last year I had the opportunity to represent Eastern Area at the national event in Trafalgar Square. Marching down The Mall, looking across to my peers, all with massive grins on our faces, made all the hard work worth it. Having the opportunity to do this again fills me with giddy excitement.”

LC Keira (16), Swansea Unit, Drill display

“Being a ‘drillie’, Trafalgar Day is something I have always wanted to attend as it’s such a big event. I’m also excited to catch up with some of my friends from across the UK who I’ve met at national courses and competitions. I will be part of the Sea Cadets Guard for the parade and my mother is also here as a volunteer. Me and other cadets from my unit carry out drill practise throughout the year as we consistently enter the guard competition, so we are very prepared. Getting to attend Trafalgar Day is significant for me because I have family in the Royal Navy. They are all so proud of me for being selected.”

Photos: Nathaniel Rosa

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