Shipshape Furniture!

Whitehaven Sea Cadets is a fully inclusive youth organisation open to all young people between 10 and 18. They have a well-trained, but unpaid, volunteer staff team who aim to help young people towards responsible adulthood using a nautical theme based on the customs of the Royal Navy. The training syllabus is specifically designed to boost key employability skills such as teamwork, communication and leadership skills to help the cadets thrive wherever their future career path takes them. Young people have the opportunity to gain nationally accredited qualifications (BTEC, Duke of Edinburgh, Royal Yachting Association, St John Ambulance etc.), spend time on Royal Navy bases and ships, visit other sea cadet units all over the country but most of all make new friends and gain self-confidence.

In 2014 they were forced to leave their training base which had been their home for over 70 years due to storm damage. While the Cadets continue to search for a permanent home, they have been fortunate that a local property owner has  allowed them to use a vacant property so that young people in Copeland can continue to participate in the Sea Cadet experience.

The building is a former pub and most of the pub furniture was still in situ which has been great for a couple of years. But over time it became apparent that round / heavy tables and wooden chairs  didn’t really lend themselves to the training activities being delivered and really limited what could be done with the space. As the Cadets were saving up for a new property they ‘made do’ with what had been given as they couldn’t spare the funds to upgrade the furniture.

Whitehaven Sea Cadets saw some office style furniture being advertised on Cumbria Exchange which was perfect for their needs; long rectangular tables, cushioned stackable chairs and some storage (tambour and filing cabinets) and knew that it could really improve the experience they offer the cadets.

The new furniture has transformed the training area. Better, more interactive and fun activities can be delivered in more comfortable surroundings. Everything is moveable too so the layout can be  changed to suit activities.

Additionally, the landlord agreed that the profits from selling the pub furniture could go into the Cadet funds. So not only did they manage to create a much more suitable environment for the cadets, they also generated a profit from the old equipment which will really help in the efforts to save for their permanent home …. and all the new furniture will be going with them wherever they end up!

P.O. (SCC) Stuart McCourt – Commanding Officer, Whitehaven Sea Cadets said “Although we base our training on Royal Naval traditions and are proud to wear their uniform we receive no funding from the Ministry Of Defence or any other source. Each Sea Cadet unit is a registered charity and we have to raise every penny we spend while making sure we keep costs as low as possible as many of our members are from low income households. Without this donation, we simply could not have spared the funds to upgrade our training area.”

“Initially we saw an offer from Cumbria County Council for tables and filing cabinets. On its own that would have made a huge difference but shortly after we also noticed an offer from BEC and Kaefer for further furniture including cushioned chairs, a tambour unit and different tables. When this was combined it allowed us to completely refurbish our training area.”

“As simple as it sounds, having furniture which is fit for purpose and can be rearranged has really given us a lift within our unit and gives us a space to be proud of. It means that we have an improved environment to keep our cadets engaged with better and more creative activities and they have really responded to this with renewed enthusiasm. I can’t thank Cumbria County Council, BEC and Kaefer enough for their generosity, it is making a huge difference already and will continue to do so for years to come as this furniture will be coming with us wherever we end up.”

“All of the organisations were very accommodating and couldn’t have been more professional. They understood that most of our volunteers would be working during office hours and arranged viewing and even in some cases delivery at times which we were able to make. I genuinely don’t think they know just how much of a difference their surplus furniture has made to a small charity like ours.”

Adam Philips from BEC, a Profit for Purpose Company who develop and let workspace in West Cumbria said “We are delighted to have been in the position to donate furniture for Whitehaven Sea Cadets. This furniture became available following the extensive refurbishment of our meeting rooms at Westlakes Science Park, it really is great to find new homes for these items. It is wonderful news to learn of how the furniture is being used by the Whitehaven Sea Cadets in support of their fantastic work with young people locally.”






Where can I find out more about the parties involved?

Whitehaven Sea Cadets:

Cumbria County Council Libraries & Archive Service:


KAEFER Ltd:   

Anne Broome
Anne is the Cumbria Exchange Coordinator and the first port of call for all things Exchange. Read more from Anne