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Members offer pro bono charity work to save ailing sea cadets

Sunbury and Walton Sea Cadets’ proposed HQ
Beleaguered youth charity seeks support and funding to salvage unique premises.

Two members have come to the rescue of a charitable project that has suffered repeated construction setbacks. Daniel Samson MCIOB, a Bristol Hub committee member and senior project manager at Mace, along with David Farage, an associate member who is senior partner with BMD Architects, have stepped in to help the ailing Sunbury and Walton Sea Cadets.

The self-funding charity, run by local volunteers, has an 80-year history of helping young disadvantaged people gain confidence, skills, success and have fun from its riverbank centre.

One of the key volunteers is William (Bill) Spray, a master builder who joined as a trustee when he retired from running his own domestic and commercial construction business.

A 2013 premises review highlighted that the rundown, single-skinned, prefabricated, cold and damp building was increasingly difficult to maintain, too small and not fit for purpose.

The site location is rare, with excellent direct access to the Thames, so the charity set about raising funds to rebuild next to the old HQ (to be converted into a boat shed in the future).

“Our young people are squeezed into a small training area in a substandard building along with all our training equipment.”

Gail Cramp, Sunbury and Walton Sea Cadets

However in February 2014 devastating Thames flooding (the first since 1947) forced closure for four months and it took six years before the small team of volunteers was able to raise sufficient funds for the build contract, professional fees and design.

What followed was a litany of contractor disasters – two went into liquidation and a third project manager left. By October 2020 the charity was onto its third builder and progress had been painfully slow.

The current situation is to get to dry with frame, roof, windows and cladding installed.“We simply do not have enough funds and are out of options without additional funding,” says Gail Cramp, chair of  Sunbury and Walton Sea Cadets.

“Getting to dry is critical or we risk damage when riverbank conditions deteriorate in November. In the meantime, our young people are squeezed into a small training area in a substandard building along with all our training equipment.”

Farage is assisting Matt Letty, a partner with BMD, which has been supporting the Sea Cadets since the removal of the first contractor in 2018.

Mace has also stepped in with pro bono project management and will approach its supply chain as part of a drive to encourage donation of materials and labour.

“BMD has been an absolute shining light for us,” says Cramp. “Their support has been inspirational. We are immensely thankful for their help through the highs and lows of the build.”

The charity is still seeking funding and/or expertise. Anyone willing to help should contact Gail Cramp, chair, at [email protected]

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