The Brighton Sea Cadets have been coming to the National since 1981

Fr Beaumont Brandie MBE is well known as Chief Steward at the National Pilgrimage and for the party of Sea Cadets that he brings with him every year to provide both an honour Guard and a construction and demolition team ... In the 2002 Pilgrimage programme he wrote a short history of the Guard, part of which is reproduced below: it was the 20th year of the Cadets' association with the Shrine and also the year in which the Principal Celebrant was Bishop Noel Jones, who had been Chaplain of the Fleet.

Sea Cadets first came to form an honour Guard for Our Lady of Walsingham at the Golden Jubilee of the Holy House in 1981 when they escorted her from the Parish Church back to the Shrine. All this came about because the Navy was unable to provide a Guard on this occasion. Shortly after the war Fr Colin Stephenson invited trainees from HMS Ganges in Suffolk to form just such a guard when it was heard that the Kensitites (the protesters of the era) were going to make an attack on the image. An attack actually took place, and the sailor lads closed ranks and 'repelled boarders'. The tradition continued during Fr Stephenson's life and Fr Roland Webb, a Clerk of the Holy House, remembers bringing various parties.

By 1981, however, Ganges was closed and the Navy fully stretched and otherwise occupied. As a Chaplain in the RNR Fr Brandie was asked if he could provide any sailors to replace them. Because the RNR divisions were all on exercise that weekend he suggested bringing Cadets from his unit in Brighton, and so the tradition started.

When Fr Brandie was invited to become Chief Steward in 1982 the Cadets joined him not only in providing an honour Guard but also as part of the construction and demolition team from his parish that do the backstage work at the National Pilgrimage, without whom it would not be so easily achieved. Pilgrims will have seen them out and about helping around the Shrine in other ways during National Pilgrimage weekends.

Two of the original Guard are still part of the team every year.

Not a pre-service organisation as such, many Sea Cadets go on into the Armed Forces. Sadly for us, a member of the initial Guard, Stephen Avey, was killed when he was knocked from his motorbike on his way home for his RN leave. A lamp burns for him and for the Brighton Sea Cadet Unit on the outside wall of the Holy House.

cadets' tally

sea cadets October 2006

the cadets also took part in the Translation anniversary procession in October 2006

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Fr Beau Brandie MBE
Fr Beau Brandie MBE
at the National

above: he was appointed MBE for services to Sea Cadets, and the Shrine's Holt Road entrance has been renamed The Brandie Gate in his honour in recognition of his work, particularly for the National Pilgrimages

below: Our Lady's Guard
preparing for the Procession

Our Lady's Guard
Our Lady's Guard 2010 © Graham Howard