Sea Cadet charity looks to its legacy to inspire its future

Sea cadets
Ray Bullock, John Portfleet and Jack Mills as teenage Sea Cadets

Sea Cadets, the national youth charity, has launched a search for people in our region that once wore its navy blue uniform and white sailors cap.

Once such former cadet is Ruth Bell MBE, now a Deputy Lieutenant of Bedfordshire and a senior civil servant in The Ministry of Defence.

The search, called ‘My LegaSea’, aims to inspire former cadets from across the region to reconnect with the charity, share their stories from time spent at sea, on powerboats or travelling the world on expeditions.

Phil Russell, Captain of Sea Cadets, said, “We’d love to hear from anyone living in the East of England who once served as a sea cadet, so that we can hear their stories and inspire them to share past adventures, friendships and valuable life lessons learned from time at sea.

“So far, we’ve heard from former cadets across the UK including Olympians, award-winning musicians, engineers, dancers, civil servants and military veterans, all of whom were positively influenced by their time as a sea cadet.”

My LegaSea has been commissioned by the Marine Society and Sea Cadets (MSSC) to explore the legacy of its work with young people aged 10 to 18 and how it helps shape the lives and prospects of cadets.

The Sea Cadets has commissioned an independent researcher who has been travelling the country, meeting former cadets and hearing their stories.

Ruth Bell MBE is a Deputy Lieutenant of Bedfordshire and a senior civil servant in The Ministry of Defence.

Deputy Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Ruth Bell, 52, received her MBE in 2015 for services to Defence and for volunteering with the Sea Cadets for over 30 years, including as Commanding Officer (Lt Cdr SCC) and more recently as District Officer for Bedfordshire.

Ruth joined the Sea Cadets Biggleswade Unit as a teenager and continued to serve as a volunteer despite the demands of a successful career with the MOD, which has seen her work in several active war zones.

Anna Spencer, researcher on behalf of the MSSC, said, “Ruth’s story is an inspirational example of the selflessness that the Sea Cadets seeks to instil in young people who join.

“Ruth has always viewed the sea cadet movement as a second family and has dedicated herself to helping young people learn valuable life skills through seamanship training and cadet life.

“We’d love to unearth more great stories from The East of England and I’d urge people to get in touch with theirs.”

If you, or anyone you know, has served in the Sea Cadets and would like to share their story, you can by completing the My LegaSea survey online at:

Or by emailing: and

For people who are not online, you can write to the Sea Cadets My LegaSea Team at 202 Lambeth Road, London, SE1 7JW, addressed to Anna Spencer, Lead Researcher, My LegaSea.