John Lightfoot, MBE, chairman of Solar Solve Ltd and his wife Lilian, company secretary, were very pleased and proud to be asked to name a new classroom in their local sea cadet unit, The Lightfoot Room.
For the past 9 years John and Lilian have been supporting T.S. Collingwood, the South Shields Sea Cadet Corps, with regular donations to their funds to help ease the pressures on the committee, chaired by his good friend John Eltringham, MBE. You can read more about the unit here https://www.sea-cadets.org/southshields
For the whole time the Lightfoot’s have been involved with the unit, John Eltringham and everyone else associated with the unit have consistently needed to raise funds for one thing after another. They have replaced the roof and supplied and fixed new signage to their headquarters building; created separate toilet, shower and sleeping facilities for male and female cadets; re designed, decorated and installed new equipment in the galley, so they can offer cookery certificates in collaboration with the local college; created better workshop facilities for repairing and storing the dozen or more various types of boats the cadets use for training; plus lots of other upgrades and decorating. In spite of all this type of work, the unit has continued to raised funds to maintain and upgrade their stock of training boats including a very expensive but extremely important asset, a wheelyboat that is a wheelchair accessible boat to provide disabled people with independent access to activities on the water. Read more about the Wheelyboat Trust here https://www.wheelyboats.org/
All of that was daunting enough and accepted as part of the typical challenges sea cadets have to face. However, fate had a bit more of a character-building challenge in store for the unit when, in December 2013, the worst tidal surge up the River Tyne in 60 years flooded the ground floor of their building and badly affected the renovations that had been done to the toilet and shower facilities and the workshop repair and storage facilities for the boats. So a huge amount of remedial work had to be carried out as a consequence.
Now that the fabric of the building is finally safe, sound and weather proof and internally the new permanent facilities comply with the necessary requirements for male and female cadets, the staff asked the cadets if there were any additional facilities they would like. The Junior section asked for a classroom to be allocated for their own use, as they are currently assigned a corner of the main hall in which to carry out their tasks.
As a result, a partial loft area in the rafters was floored out, fitted out and a staircase built so the Junior Section now have their own classroom. It is this room that was named The Lightfoot Room at T.S. Collingwood’s Awards Evening in mid-December, which was attended by a number of dignitaries including Mrs Susan Margaret Winfield OBE DL, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for Tyne and Wear; Councillor Ken Stephenson, Mayor of South Tyneside and his mum Cathy Stephenson, the Mayoress; and the host, Chairman John Eltringham MBE and his wife Jane, committee treasurer.
In her speech, the Lord-Lieutenant praised the cadets as the stars of the show and referred to the numerous awards that they have won during 2018, some as individuals, some as groups and 4 very prestigious awards won by the Collingwood Unit. They were a burgee, the highest award that reflects the level of training, community participation, events, staff and cadet attendance of the unit. This is the 10th in a row, which is something they have only achieved once before in their 80-years existence. The District Award and The Stephenson Trophy, National Sea Cadet Awards for Best Unit in the Northern Area (North of England down to the Humber, Scotland and Northern Ireland). T.S. Collingwood have also been awarded the Captains Cup for coming third out of over 600 units in the whole of the UK, which is a truly fantastic achievement.
Mrs. Winfield also paid tribute to the Uniform Staff, The Committee, The Adult Volunteers and the parents, without whose support none of the awards or anything else would be possible. She particularly emphasised how important their support is in preparing the youngsters, who join with little in the way of life skills or any other type of skills but with huge amounts of commitment and determination, for adulthood. When they leave, they are totally transformed into young adults who can face many of the challenges that they will encounter in their lives and careers, with confidence and ability and will be a credit to their unit and the volunteers who helped them on their way.
Top Image – Lilian and John Lightfoot, MBE, with John Eltringham, MBE and his wife Jane, after the naming of The Lightfoot Room at South Shields Sea Cadet Corps T.S. Collingwood headquarters.
Below Image – Susan Winfield, OBE DL, Lord-Lieutenant for Tyne and Wear and John Lightfoot, MBE, chatting about their admiration for the Collingwood Sea Cadets and their many impressive achievements.
Bottom Image – ADO Lt. Steven Grainger, Cathy Stephenson, Mayoress of South Tyneside and her son Councillor Ken Stephenson, the Mayor, discuss the facilities in the new Lightfoot Room.