Mid and East Antrim welcomed very special guests to the borough as the Lord Nelson tall ship, crewed by cadets and disabled veterans, sailed into Northern Ireland.
As part of the remembrance activities to mark the end of the First World War, 48 injured soldiers and 80 cadets are embarking on a voyage of remembrance, adventure and personal development as part of Lord Dannatt’s Round Britain Challenge.
And having dropping anchor in Belfast, councillors and staff were buoyed by the opportunity to greet the crew of the Lord Nelson in Mid and East Antrim.
The Mayor held a special reception in Carrickfergus Town Hall where guest of honour, Mrs Joan Christie, CVO, OBE, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for the County of Antrim, was entertained by cadets from Essex, Yorkshire and Shetland recalling their adventures on the Edinburgh to Belfast leg.
The complement is working together to sail around the UK on board a specially adapted tall ship, changing crew every 10 days in each capital city (London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff). In each changeover port there will be a celebration of remembrance, inclusivity and diversity.
Each 10-day voyage sees injured service personnel, cadets and instructors aged 16-25 working as a team to sail the ship to the next capital city, climbing the mast, helm the ship, setting the sails and much more.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Lindsay Millar, said: “We were delighted to welcome the Lord Dannatt Challenge crew to Mid and East Antrim.
“This is a fantastic and hugely exciting challenge and I send my best wishes and congratulations to all involved.
“This challenge tests the Lord Nelson crew’s leadership, teamwork, courage, and resilience, everyone will gain a real sense of achievement and friends for life. The voyage also qualifies individuals for their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential.
“We in Mid and East Antrim have extremely strong bonds with our military services and cadets.
“The Duke of Edinburgh is also extremely close to many of our hearts. Indeed, just recently we marked Prince Philip’s 97th birthday with a 21-gun salute in Carrickfergus. Of course, the Duke of Edinburgh is no stranger to our borough, having landed in Carrickfergus for the start of a two-day visit back in 1961.
“We also cherish our close links to the cadets, who are very dear to Mrs Joan Christie CVO, OBE, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for the County of Antrim. “
One of those taking part in the challenge is local teen Megan McGaughey, a member of the Army Cadets.
Megan was recently joined by family and friends at a special Mayor’s reception in The Braid to mark her achievements.
The 17-year-old from Cloughmills, said she was honoured to be selected and vowed to rise to every challenge that comes her way.
Megan has been an established member of the cadets since 2012.
She said that during her time with the cadets she had made friends for life, represented Northern Ireland on numerous occasions through playing different sports, and has learnt lifelong skills.
Megan has completed her junior and senior instructor course, enabling her to deliver fun-filled lessons full of knowledge.
Proud mum Debbie said: “Megan’s rank of Sergeant shows the time and commitment she has put into cadets and the fantastic opportunities she has been given, such as the Lord Dannatt Round Britain Challenge. She enjoys every minute she spends in cadets.
Lord Dannatt said of the adventure: “This incredible and ambitious challenge reflects the past, present and future. It will be an adventure of integration, unity and mentorship for the veterans and cadets sailing side by side. Everything on board will be designed to teach leadership, independence and teamwork skills. A tremendous way to commemorate 100 years since the end of WW1.”
The greeting of the Lord Dannatt Round Britain Challenge is one of a series of commemorative events taking place in Mid and East Antrim in the coming months to mark the centenary of the end of The Great War.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council will be participating in the WW1 Beacons of Light at 7.00pm on Sunday 11 November, when over 1,000 Beacons of Light will be lit across the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and UK Overseas Territories, symbolising an end to the darkness of war and a return to the light of peace.
A number of ‘Ghost Tommies’ are also set to be erected at locations across Mid and East Antrim to mark the centenary of the end of the Great War.
The poignant sculptures will be placed in Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus in memory of all those who lost their lives in the conflict.
To find out more about the Lord Dannatt Round Britain Challenge, please visit armycadets.com/