19 September 2018
Between 24th August – 02nd September 2018, Cadet Staff Sergeant Ben Fairburn of Wenlock Detachment, took part in the Lord Dannatt’s Challenge along with cadets from all around the County. Ben travelled to Britannia Quay in Cardiff to set out on the 10-day last leg part of this year’s challenge. Ben and his fellow cadets spent their leg of the trip on Sail Training Ship Lord Nelson, travelling from Cardiff and finishing off at the Tower of London.
The challenge itself was a charitable event in the aid of raising awareness for the First World War with 2018 marking 100 years since the end of the war.
Ben, the other cadets, injured veterans along with the permanent crew set off from Cardiff heading to Dartmouth, where the weary crew made port. From there they headed to Alderney on the coast of Guernsey before heading to Tilbury where they made their final approach up the Rive Thames to the Tower of London – where the crew marched in and presented the remaining the forth corner of the plaque.
At each capital city the ship stopped at, a corner of a plaque was given to the crew and put on a board upon the Lord Nelson that was presented to Lord Dannatt himself at the Tower of London when the last intrepid voyagers docked.
When the Crew arrived at the tower, the Mayor of London, the Chief Executive of The Jubilee Sailing Trust gave an address to the crews of this year’s challenge.
Cdt S/Sgt Fairburn recalls what it was like to be on The Lord Nelson during the 10-day voyage: “We took part in a number of activities, including climbing the rigging, stowing and setting sails, helping the chef, taking turns on watch, helming the ship and evening raising and lowering the anchor.” Ben went on to say: “The whole experience was amazing, but best part was being placed with responsibility, and having the trust of the permanent crew without being under their direct supervision”.
The trip also enabled Ben to complete a BTEC Level 2, including the nautical activities unit. Ben said: “Being alongside the veterans was a great experience, they were able to pass on first-hand experiences to us, about life in the forces, which was a great insight. One of the most memorable parts of the voyage was having the opportunity to have a private tour around The Royal Naval Leadership Academy where Naval officers are trained was an insightful and once in a lifetime experience which will be memorable in the future.”
Ben went on to say: “I would recommend this challenge to any cadet from any background in the country, as I have had the best experience of my cadet career and met some of the most amazing people I have encountered in the ACF.”
Information and images provided by Cdt S/Sgt Ben Fairburn