Straight back from helping set up Jordan Wylie's support boat we interviewed Sergeant Instructor Matt Allen who is second in command at Shoeburyness detachment.
So what exactly is Jordan doing?
Jordan is undertaking a 2000 mile Paddle boarding around the UK world record to raise funds and all profits will go to the Frontline children to help Jordan's mission to build a school on the Horn of Africa where Jordan had spent periods of time whilst serving in the armed forces.
Why did you get involved in helping ?
Jordan Wylie, as one of our ambassadors for the ACF had contacted HQ to see if there could be any support provided by local Cadets and CFAV's to help in the cleaning of the support boat. Unbeknown to us, the support boat had sat underneath trees for Eight years without touching water apart from rain. Due to Covid-19, we were not sure if the event would get the go ahead. It was only on the morning of the 22nd July that we got the following message:
"Good Morning and many thanks for offering to support the Jordan Wylie event today. Unfortunately we might not receive a decision until 1030hrs which is when you should be arriving at the marina. Can I therefore please ask that you plan for the event to happen and to aim to arrive there for that time. If things change I will of course let you know and there is a chance that you will be stood down when you arrive".
That's rather down to the wire, what happened next?
I left home at 0845 and at 0930 I received a message to advise that we had a green light. We were to meet Captain White our Company PSS at the marina on Wallasea Island where we would be briefed. On arrival I was joined by SSI Jack Loughran, SSI Emily Hetsall, SI Aneka Langley and the most senior Cadet in the Company, Cadet Staff Sergeant Harrison Chambers.
We were given our briefing by Captain White, and shortly after met with Jordan and the skipper of the support boat, Alex. They advised us of what was required, we were then introduced to Coyote (the boat). We realised that we were going to need a little help from a high pressure washer and as I lived the closest I asked my wife to bring the ‘Karcher’ and buckets to the marina. Jordan also went shopping for buckets and sponges, both arrived at the marina at pretty much the same time. I set up the washer and then when we got to work.
As the day went on the other CFAV's had to depart and by 1430hrs I was left on my own polishing the hull of the boat. I had my head phones on, music blaring and cracked on until 1930hrs. Sadly the boat wasn't finished, so I offered to return after I had finished work on the Thursday. Which I did, and carried on Polishing the boat until I finished at about 1830hrs.
But cleaning wasn't all you did, what else did you do to help?
Alex and I discussed what else was needed to be done to install a Secondary VHF radio mast and module. This is where my ACF Signals skills came in handy!
Alex had sourced a Smartfind M10 AIS Class B Transponder and module to fit on the bracket for the outboard motor. What they lacked was the skills to assemble it. Luckily as I a qualified Engineer, this was perfect for me. Once again I volunteered to return to the marina after work on the Friday to continue to install the equipment. Alex would have been there on his own with no tools, all of the equipment to install, stickers and signs to attach to the boat and the Outboard Motor bracket to fix onto the rear of the boat without all of the knowledge needed. Together we were able to get the work done. Alex had time to configure the equipment and to plan for the trip. Unfortunately the work was still not completed as the Outboard motor had to be fitted and serviced, at that point the day was over and Alex was driving back home to Gosport.
By the end of Friday the outboard motor was still not ready and they were due to leave Sunday, what did you do?
As a qualified motor mechanic I thought to myself how difficult is it to service an outboard motor? I did a bit of googling and youtubing and decided that I could do this. I told Alex not rush back and that I would do the service and mount the engine in the morning. On Saturday morning in the rain, wind and a little bit of hail, I stripped and serviced the engine, built it back up and mounted it on the boat just before the Marina team arrived to lift the boat back into the water. As that happened Alex arrived and we proceeded to the refueling barge and filled her up. 200 litres and £300 pounds later, all our hard work was finished and the boat was ready for Sunday's departure. I left the marina about 1730, just after Jordan had arrived.
Your family must be quite impressed with what you've done for Jordan.
Yes, they are. That evening I asked my children, who are cadets if they would like to go to the marina to meet Jordan and see him off. They were both very excited, especially as Nathan (my son) aspires to be in the forces like Jordan. Nathan holds his BCU, Kayak and canoe awards and now he wants a paddle board too. Darcie (my daughter) also wants a paddle board now and she thinks Jordan is quite handsome, which is understandable for a teenage girl.
After working so hard during the week, tell us what happened on launch day.
On Sunday it was another 0730 start to meet Jordan and his team. Made up of Alex, who i had been working with in the week and is a world record breaking sailor and Skipper. Also on the team was James, an Ex RAF Sniper and Paula an adventure psychologist and a South pole explorer. With that team behind him, I think Jordan is in very safe hands.
My children, Nathan and Darcie spoke to Jordan at length and the other members of the team whilst they were preparing to leave. Shortly before Jordan was due to depart he gave a speech and summary of how the whole experience had brought so many people and sponsors together to reach a common goal. The goal, to get Jordan on the water and to raise as much money as possible. He went on to give thanks to everybody that had helped him on his way including us members of the ACF. He particularly acknowledged my contribution to the adventure and presented me with “Commander Cadets Achievement Coin” from Headquarters Regional Command Cadet Branch.
Congratulations! That is quite an honour.
I never expected anything and I was already over the moon as previously Jordan gave me a Team baseball cap. I still don’t really understand why I received it, I didn't do anything special. I did what I could because I have the knowledge and they needed the help, and I would again. But I do feel that I am blessed to have been given such an award. I love being in the cadets and I volunteer because I want to, not because I have to or expect anything in return.
A big well done to all of our instructors and cadets who helped, especially with the pressures of Covid-19 and so close to our Virtual Annual Camp. Congratulations to SI Allen on your award, and thank you so much, for your hard work and commitment.