This year TS Collingwood took 22 cadets under the age of 17 to Malta in Mediterranean and 6 adults to accompany them. The lead up to the trip took lots of hard work and dedication to reach a goal of £13,500 fundraised, in order to make the trip happen.
After 24 months of standing with collection buckets in the cold and rain, packing shopping bags in various shopping establishments, planning and waiting, the day finally came where the bags were loaded onto the conveyer belt at Newcastle International Airport and the cadets were boarded onto the plane to make their way to Malta. Cabin check complete, seatbelts on, tray tables folded and we were away!
The cadets were excited from day one to visit the country and couldn’t quite believe that it was happening; one cadet said “I can’t believe after all this time and effort we are finally going to Malta. I can’t wait to get there and visit the capital Valetta!”
On our first evening, we met and were greeted by the Maltese team, Captain Keith Caddick and his amazing team of helpers and two of his unit’s cadets. We were welcomed with open arms and fed a traditional Maltese snack of fresh bread, tomatoes and a mixture of oils and herbs. One cadet Lance Corporal Jack even asked the cook for her recipe he enjoyed it that much and said he would make it for himself once he was home in the UK.
Day 1 – Malta!
The first day consisted of a general walk about Kalkara where we were to live for the next week. We ventured up a hill towards what was a cliff face to face and look over the Mediterranean Sea, with the beautiful landscapes and sea breeze taken in, it was time to head to the beach but not before some photos could be snapped of the cadets in action walking about.
The beach, which was situated right outside of the unit, was a favourite spot for ALL on the trip! Diving, swimming, snorkelling and playing in the sea, the cadet’s trip to Malta was off to a great start!
Day 2 – Museums and Beach Fun!
The second day was filled with history! Our guide, Sergeant Gabriel Gauci, took us to the Maltese Maritime Museum where the cadets had hundreds of questions! They learnt about the history of the Royal Navy in Malta and also got to see and hear about where the Maltese cadet unit was first formed in Fort St Angelo which they would later visit.
They spoke about the battle of Trafalgar and one cadet, Leading Cadet Ted, was quick to jump with his own about the battle and who was present during it. To which our guide for the day, was impressed and continued to chat more about it afterwards.
After the museum, the walk back to the unit began in the 35 degree plus heat, the cadets indulged in an obligatory ice cream stop! Where they tried various flavours of ice cream and sorbets to cool themselves down!
Day 3 – Celebrations and Fort St Angelo
Day 3 consisted of a 12th Birthday for Cadet Sophie and a visit to Fort St Angelo. The fort was where the Malta Sea Cadet unit originated from and the cadets found this extremely interesting. The fort provided safety to the harbour and was also used as a place of refuge during raids. The fort has undergone lots of restorations and was opened to the public in 2016.
After our visit to the fort, we headed back to the unit to freshen up and make our way to Valetta Waterfront. This is where shops, restaurant and the ports are situated. Our reason for visiting was not for shops and the port, but to celebrate a birthday and give our cadets a treat whilst out in Malta, an evening which was enjoyed by everyone!
Day 4 – Victoria Lines and Splash and Fun
Our day consisted of a trip to the Great Wall of Malta, known as the Victoria lines. The wall itself is 12 kilometres long and spans the width of Malta; it divides the less populated part of Malta in the north to the south where it is more heavily populated. When it was built in the 19th century, it was designed to be a barrier, to prevent those with intent on attacking the harbour, which then was vital for maintenance of the British fleet. The cadets were impressed that the wall was still in existence and one cadet asked: “how come the wall never fell down?”… They were told this was because of the various fortifications and
batteries that were situated the whole length of the wall and the searches and forces that were in place to protect it.
After our visit to the Victoria lines, we headed to splash and fun water park, for another fun filled afternoon in the sun.
The evening was spent listening to a Freddie Mercury tribute that had been arranged for the Cadets, where the Maltese Cadets, parents and supporters were all invited. The cadets mixed and became friends with the Maltese cadets whilst at the BBQ and enjoyed singing on the karaoke during the evening.
Day 5 – Valetta!
Day 5 consisted of a visit to Valetta, Malta’s capital city. The cadets were taken and shown the city and posed in front of the iconic fountain situated in the city centre. Whilst in Valetta the cadets were given the chance to buy and look for presents for their family and friends back home, in the cold weather! Some bought fridge magnets, others bought postcards.
On return to the unit, we conducted a plan to get the cadets to participate in some chores. Although on holiday, the cadets were still expected to perform duties and chores to help and respect the Maltese unit as they would their own back home in South Shields.
Day 6 – Our trip to Comino!
The cadets went on a trip to the stunning Comino and the Blue Lagoon, where they were allowed to swim in the water and indulge in some sun time. The cadets spent the afternoon swimming and playing in the sea, but not after learning why there were Separate Island around Malta, and why they were not heavily populated. The lagoon itself is a small slice of paradise and is visited by millions every single summer. The island itself is inhibited and has one of the most spectacular sights of the beautiful, clear and picturesque Mediterranean water.
Day 7 – time to come home!
For everyone, this was the day that they never wanted to come! Our last day with Malta Sea Cadets and our last bit of sunshine! The cadets spent the day relaxing the some of the Maltese Sea Cadets and packing their cases. The adults were all sat down in the later afternoon and given “thank you gifts” from the cadets and thanked for all of their hard work and support in the making of this trip. They explained to us that the trip had given them an insight into another culture in Malta, and also a sense of achievement and what it meant to work as a team. They enjoyed every single minute of the trip and were eager to ask if they could come back!
Our trip to Malta was a first for some cadets, some who had never been out of the UK before and for some the first time they had ever been on a plane. The trip itself was a massive success in creating a bond with the Malta Sea Cadet unit and their staff and team. They hope to see us again in the near future and we offered to host them should they ever want to visit the UK.