|The Brighton Sea Cadets have been coming to the National since 1981|
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.
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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
Our Lady's Guard 2010 © Graham Howard