South Shields Navy cadets become first ever champions of charity river race

From left, John Milner, Curriculum Leader at South Shields Marine School, Wendy O'Donnell, Assistant Harbour Master - Teesport, and Josslynne Masters, a South Shields Marine School lecturer.
From left, John Milner, Curriculum Leader at South Shields Marine School, Wendy O'Donnell, Assistant Harbour Master - Teesport, and Josslynne Masters, a South Shields Marine School lecturer.

A group of intrepid Merchant Navy sea cadets made a splash by becoming the first champions of a new charity river race.

The cadets teamed up with lecturers from South Shields Marine School to sail into the record books by crossing the finishing line at Middlesbrough Dock eight seconds ahead of their nearest rival to clinch the inaugural Tees Rowing Race’s High Tide Trophy.

The event aims to raise awareness of the work of the Sea Cadets, High Tide Foundation, Tees Nautical Studies, and the Mission to Seafarers.

It comes shortly after the marine school held its seventh annual charity Tyne Row, in which its teams and others from around the UK race from Newcastle Quayside to South Shields.

John Milner, curriculum leader at South Shields Marine School, said: “This was a friendly but still competitive event and our team tried its best to win while knowing it was the taking part that mattered most.

“Our own Tyne Row is a very important event in our calendar and one that raises thousands of pounds for good causes, and so we were delighted to also be able to support the Tees Rowing Race.

“It was a great success, and those who took part enjoyed the experience. Best of all, money was raised to support four important charities.”

Twelve teams of four rowers and a coxswain took part in the challenge, racing 800m in Trinity 500 boats, with all except South Shields Marine School, which was sponsored by Svitzer Marine, based on Teesside.

The marine school completed the course in 6 minutes and 57 seconds, with InSpec Engineering second, two seconds ahead of PD Teesdock. Other competitors included PD Conservancy and Tees Rowing Club.

Wendy O’Donnell, assistant harbour master for Teesport, said: “The event could not have taken place without the volunteers and all the people who came together in support.

“This includes the financial backing we received, including donations from across the port community and team entrance fees.

“All the charities involved hope that the race can be run again next year, and with even more support to bring in more friends and family to enjoy and share the day as we all did.

“We will hopefully have another great day of fun in the sun and play our part in helping the charities to continue their good work across the River Tees by raising much needed funds. A huge thanks to all who were involved.”

The event opened with the Teesside Sea Cadets performing a Colours Ceremony in the tradition of the Royal, followed by the playing of bag pipes by professional piper Paul Mack.

Other entertainment was provided by British freestyle jet-ski champion Jason Bleasdale, who was joined by his friend Adam Henderson to perform a coordinated display on the water.

Teesside firefighters and harbour police also displayed their emergency vehicles, and members of the Marine Cadets showed off field craft.