How and when it all began…
As a young boy I’m pretty sure I answered the same as any other when asked ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ the usual… Fireman, policeman or doctor etc; But I’m also pretty sure that no one thought that a young boy with next to no maritime background in the family and living about as far from the sea as you can possibly get in England would grow up to be a seafarer.
It all started when I joined the Northampton Sea Cadets at 13 years old and to this day joining is still the best thing I’ve ever done. (I will write a post dedicated to the Sea Cadet Corps in due course).
It was here that my love for the nautical began. With the help of some fantastically talented, motivated and dedicated senior cadets and adult instructors, I learnt a lot about Her Majesty’s Royal Navy and armed forces, also a lot about myself.
As I progressed through the ranks to the dizzying heights of Petty Officer Cadet and undertook as many training courses and foreign exchanges as I could, it became a certainty in my mind that I wanted to become a Royal Navy Officer.
The Sea Cadet Corp gave fantastic professional career advice, we were often visited by RN recruitment officers, were given the opportunity to ask questions and to have one-to-ones, to ensure joining up was as easy and informative as possible. I was advised that I should undertake my A Levels, so I did!
Nearing the end of my time in 6th form we were encouraged to apply to universities, something I had never even considered (I think it was a shock to everyone as I still caused plenty of trouble back then). I went back to the RN careers officers and they informed me that unless I wanted to be a submariner; that they had surplus officers and that I should do a degree and come back in 3 years. Disappointed and confidence slightly shaken I went to my 6th form head and asked for help as I was already behind on my Uni application because of my RN plans.
My 6th form head, Ms Florey said that she had that very morning received a leaflet from an organisation regarding sponsoring pupils through university with a view to them becoming Merchant Navy Officers.
Now…. I wouldn’t say that I had led a sheltered life up until that point and I certainly knew that TVs and Playstations were ‘shipped’ and not flown around the world but I must admit I’d never given a second thought over who sailed those ship or how they went about doing it.
Ms Florey explained 5 fundamental things about the Merchant Navy that in an instant changed my mind about the Royal Navy.
Then began my search for a sponsor company, It was important to get the best pay, best ships and the best reputation for training. I attended a MN careers day where many of the shipping companies were advertising, I spoke to a student who had just come back from sea, David Hopkins, he spent half an hour explaining everything he experienced at sea and explained more about uni. I was offered a sponsorship with a company called P&O Nedlloyd right there and then because of my time and rank in the sea cadets.
The rest as they say…is history… Well it would be… But that’s basically what this blog is about.