A Cardiff teenager will call time on a glittering cadet career by sailing from his hometown to London and in the company of royal newlyweds, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
17-year-old Bradley Cartwright, from Llandaff, will sail aboard the Lord Nelson ship on the fourth and final 10-day leg of the Lord Dannatt Round Britain Challenge, organised by the Jubilee Sailing Trust.
The end of the 40-day voyage to all four of the United Kingdom’s capitals will coincide with Bradley’s 18th birthday in September when he will leave Dyfed and Glamorgan Army Cadet Force (ACF).
Bradley’s voyage will begin at a special ceremony in Cardiff later this week, where the crew will swap over from the participants of the previous leg. There will also be a parade and musical performances during the event.
24 members of the cadet community and 12 injured Service personnel will man the ship and then meet with the royals at the voyage’s final location, though Bradley has already crossed their path. The opportunity has been sponsored by Alan Peterson, Honorary Colonel Army Cadets Wales.
“I genuinely can’t think of a better way to finish off my cadet career. This is the biggest farewell that could’ve been given to me,” said Bradley, who holds the rank of Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major.
“I’ve always been interested in learning about conflicts around the world and to be able to pay respect to people who have been injured in conflict is the least I can do.
“I’ll get to thank Harry and Meghan for the invite to the wedding in May, too. Seeing them as a married couple will be fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed the wedding and I’ll enjoy seeing them again.”
The Jubilee Sailing Trust is a world leader in social inclusion and this voyage will bring together people of mixed abilities. They have two purpose-built tall ships to integrate physically disabled people with non-disabled people.
The crew will share responsibilities, such as climbing masts and setting sails, before they arrive at the Tower of London for a final ceremony in the form of a British garden party with military music. They will also be presented with the final piece of a memorial to the First World War, having received the other parts at the end of each leg.
Bradley said: “The opportunity was presented to me and I could see it was great, so I put my name forward for it. I was still really shocked when I got the place. With my love of history, to commemorate the centenary of the First World War with this challenge is amazing.
“I obviously haven’t been on the ship yet but from what I can tell so far, it’s going to be bigger than anything I’ve done. The meaning of the Lord Dannatt Round Britain Challenge is really big. I’m hoping I can gain some good friends on the ship and I’m really hoping to get to speak to the veterans and get an insight in to what they’ve been through.”
The Ysgol Glantaf pupil has crammed more than 80 events in his four years as a cadet, which has given him a range of valuable skills and experiences to use later in his adult life. As recently as last week, Bradley enjoyed fieldcraft fun with friends on a two-week annual camp with Dyfed and Glamorgan ACF.
Bradley won the Lord Jones Trophy for the best target rifle shot in Wales in 2016, one of several sporting achievements, and he also gave bilingual readings at the Welsh National Service of Remembrance in 2016 and 2017. It’s been an unforgettable experience and one he recommends to other young people.
He said: “My plan in the future is to join the ACF again, this time as an Adult Instructor in a different company where I can pass on my skills. For a job, I hope to go in to engineering, I’d like to use my hands and be practical. I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me from the ACF, thank you so much.
“If you’re joining the ACF as a cadet and want to make it to the highest rank, the best way of doing that is to put your name down for everything. There are so many qualifications available. When you push yourself out of your comfort zone, that’s the best way to achieve your maximum potential.”