Rosemary Locock, CSTT Education Officer, Youth Diversion has written a report about the recent Dorset Fire and Rescue Service Cadets European Exchange.
"At 7pm on Wednesday 29th of July a group of French and German Fire Cadets and their instructors from Bremerhaven and Cherbourg arrived at Portsmouth docks for the start of this year’s European Fire Cadets Exchange. Although we are no strangers to the Exchange, the difference this year was that it was our turn to host the event for the eight French and German Cadets, as well as four of our own Fire Cadets from the recent course at Dorchester.
Our party consisted of four Fire Cadets, Megan Claridge, Georgia Glynn, Callum Dawson and Finley Taberham-Heys supported by Phil Villain, Chris Jenkins and myself. These four Fire Cadets were chosen to attend the exchange after demonstrating commitment, a positive attitude and willingness to work hard during the Dorchester Cadet programme. Part of the selection process also involved a short interview on personal qualities and attributes.
Based at the Lulworth Youth Hostel our jam-packed itinerary took us around some of the most beautiful areas of the Jurassic Coast. The facilities were more than adequate, with a fabulous full English breakfast being served every morning and the staff were more than happy to help and support us.
With breakfast at 7:30 am and most of the students not retiring to bed much before midnight, the days were long. However, seeing the students gel as a team, have fun and just be teenagers made it all worthwhile.
The initial welcome meeting held at Service HQ in Dorchester was attended by ACFO Ben Ansell, Dorset Fire Authority member Trevor Jones, Head of Prevention Linzi Holt and Pete and Linda Thornton who sponsor the Fire Cadets programme every year. This was followed by an RTC extrication in the drill yard which offered the French and German students the opportunity of being involved in the session, which is something they are not able to do in their own countries.
Our busy programme of activities was varied. During their four day stay the Fire Cadets visited our interactive Firewise suite, and carried out some drills with Green watch at Weymouth Fire station. We visited the Sea Life Centre, Monkey World, Abbotsbury Swannery as well as visits to Abbotsbury beach where they took every opportunity to fill each others clothes up with stones, a hike up to St Catherines Chapel and a trek along the coastline from Lulworth to Durdle Door where Georgia and Fin decide to brave the cold water with a fully clothed swim.
The language barrier was perhaps more of an issue for some of our French colleagues and cadets, due to their limited command of English and German languages. However, Phil Villain was able to assist them with this issue so no questions were left unanswered and everyone got on really well.
Our young people were great ambassadors for Dorset Fire & Rescue Service. They fully engaged with the other cadets and took every available opportunity to practise their French and German language skills.
Long before the French and German cadets had arrived home a Facebook page had been set up where they have been exchanging photographs and leaving messages of thanks for a great time in England.
Looking back and reflecting on this year’s exchange has left me with a feeling of euphoria. The months of planning have culminated in what I hope to be a lasting memory for the students and their instructors who took part in this year’s exchange.
Overall this has been a remarkable experience and I would like to thank everyone who has helped in any way for their commitment to this year’s exchange."