Oundle School - Exercise SCOTWEST
14th October 2014

Over the summer holidays, three CCF cadets from Oundle School, Felix Terrell (17), Jamie Hembury-Gunn (16) and Clovis Parker-Jervis (16) took part in Exercise SCOTWEST, sailing some of the most beautiful waters around the British Isles whilst gaining their RYA Day Skipper qualification. 


Departing from Faslane Naval Base, one of the most secure locations in Britain, the first morning started with a full cooked breakfast in the officers’ mess followed by a training session on their yacht HMASTC Gawaine.


Felix commented, “As we left Faslane and sailed down the Gare Loch we passed close to a moored nuclear submarine before being overtaken by HMS AMBUSH, the Royal Navy’s latest nuclear attack submarine. With mostly blue skies and the wind behind us, I was starting to get a sense of what the week might entail. After a look at the charts, and some navigation round what I now know are channel markers, we turned north up Loch Long, munching some well-cooked blueberry muffins, before anchoring for the night by a castle.”


After a swim before breakfast, a tradition that continued without fail every morning, the cadets got to grips with all the unfamiliar names of ropes, fittings and commands on board, started to take bearings and three point fixes, and talked about tides.


Felix added, “The third day under sail was the roughest we had all week. It was a long slog down the Eastern side of Arran from Tarbert, where we had stocked up supplies (and showered). This gusty broad reach was Clovis’s allotted time to bake his cake for the on-board competition - needless to say cooking in a kitchen that shifts fifty degrees was a challenge!”


On the morning of the fourth day the morning swim was extended to include a swim up the gently shelving shore to Arran. The purpose? The group was short of that vital ingredient for a good cup of tea: milk. They then sailed round to the next bay and did a series of man overboard exercises, with a strong emphasis upon not sailing over anyone, made more difficult by the fact they were doing this without use of the donk – the engine.


Felix concluded, “Friday was considerably soggier than the blue skies we had become used to, so we put on our foul weather jackets and did ‘bumps and grinds’ (parking) in Portavadie Marina, followed by a night sail up Loch Fyne. This was one of my highlights of the trip; gliding through the silver water, with no noise but the wake and the steep forested hills on either side.


On the penultimate day we saw around twenty sun bathing seals as we sailed around the northern side of Bute. Finally, on the last day we re-vised all our navigation and sailing work, took our test and sailed back up the Firth of Clyde back to Faslane. 


This memorable trip was amazing – simultaneously relaxing, informative and dramatic. I hope to get back up to Scotland this winter and continue sailing when it’s summer again.”


Head of Oundle’s CCF and skipper for this trip, Major Andrew Mansergh Royal Marines, commented, “Ex Scotwest was a tremendous opportunity for three cadets from Oundle CCF to sail some of the most beautiful waters around the British Isles and to gain their RYA Day Skipper qualification. We were very lucky with the weather and had a wonderful trip. I look forward to running a similar exercise again next year.”


Oundle’s Combined Cadet Force (CCF)

Contingent Commander: Major A.C. Mansergh Royal Marines

The Cadet Force is the largest single organisation in the School; numbering 460 cadets out of an eligible pool of 820 pupils. Eighteen members of staff provide a varied and exciting training programme every Wednesday afternoon during the term. Additional staff assist during the field weekends and holiday periods. Success and recognition is achieved at national levels; in both 2010 and 2011 a senior cadet was the runner up in The Duke of Westminster Award. Drawn from the country’s best 200 cadets this annual competition is run to find the top cadets. Oundle has produced three finalists in the last four years.

The CCF comprises of three sections: the Army Section, the Royal Navy Section and the RAF section, and is compulsory for all pupils for one year only (in the Fourth Form or Year 10). All three sections have a common core of Drill, Turnout and Skill at Arms. The RN Section then specialises in rowing, sailing and power boating, the Army Section in infantry skills and tactics, and the RAF Section in flight training. At the end of their Fourth Form year cadets may leave or decide to stay in the CCF.  For those who wish to continue their cadet careers the options include remaining in the Single Service Sections, undertaking NCO Cadre training, or joining one of the specialist training sections: Fire and Rescue (the unit trains on its own fire engine), Adventure Training, and Diving.

Training takes place every Wednesday afternoon with two field weekends, one in September and one in April. In addition, every cadet will undertake at least one camp during School holidays. These camps include skiing in the Alps, diving in the Red Sea, climbing in the Alps and Scottish Highlands, as well as military camps organised by the RAF and Army.

The Oundle School Corps dates back to 1902, as the 'Rifle Corps' 1st (Volunteer) Battalion the Northamptonshire Regiment. Since 1958, the Cadet Corps at Oundle has continuously maintained all three Service sections (Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force). Cadets are able to attend the many national camps and courses available to them, some of which are aimed towards gaining qualifications (e.g. power-boating and first aid) whilst others are aimed at developing leadership and teamwork skills. 

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