Unusual units: Whitstable

We have around 400 units, each with their own personality. This issue, we take a closer look at Whitstable, which might be our oldest unit

Vital statistics

TS name: TS Vigilant

Area: Southern 

Year founded: 1854

No. of cadets: 19 (including juniors)

No. of volunteers: 14 

CO: Lieutenant (SCC) Sharon Robbins RNR has been leading the unit for 10 years.

“Being the Commanding Officer of the oldest Sea Cadets unit fills me with an immense sense of pride,” Sharon says. “Everyone here works as a team, we’re a close-knit family, and we’re all very proud of our heritage. We’re putting together a memory box to preserve our unit’s history.” 

Boating location: The unit boats at the Viking Hub at Ramsgate Harbour, where cadets are currently focusing on their rowing. Some of the cadets took part in the Area Rowing Regatta last year. 

OC Larissa
OC Larissa from Whitstable Unit doing a reading at Trafalgar Day 2023

What makes the unit unusual?

Whitstable Unit is thought to be the oldest Sea Cadets unit in the UK, set up in 1854 by a local vicar. On his return from the Crimean War and seeing so many young people on the street, he set up an orphanage. Originally known as the Naval Lads’ Brigade, the orphans were taught nautical skills by sailors. Over time, it evolved into what would become Whitstable Sea Cadets. 

Historic whitstable unit
Whitstable Sea Cadets is thought to date back to 1854, making it the UK’s oldest unit

A cadet’s take: 

Cadet 1st Class Rebecca (16) says, “I have taken part in so many activities since joining last year – local parades, the Blessing of the Water, a brilliant offshore voyage and the district Summer Camp. I am working my way towards becoming an Ordinary Cadet and hope to achieve this in the months ahead.”

Drill and piping competition
Cadets at the Drill and Piping competition

Something the unit is working on

Whitstable Unit is undertaking major building works to reduce their heating consumption and carbon footprint. Their newly-created Cadet Environmental Committee, led by two Ordinary Cadets, is also working on more efficient recycling and waste disposal solutions.

Whitstable drill and piping
Practising drill and piping

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