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Sea cadets set course for Canonbury Road HQ’s reopening

Appeal for help with work on their base after ‘heartbreaking’ closure

27 April, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Andrew and Derick Vellosa at the centre: ‘It is very hard work’

IT was the base where hundreds of girls and boys learned how to tie their first proper knot and were taught naval discipline.

And after around six years of being closed, Islington Sea Cadets centre, in Canonbury Road, is nearly back on its feet.

The Marine Society and Sea Cadets, which licensed the property, closed the base, T.S. Quail, because of safety concerns.

Derick Vellosa and his son Andrew, however, were determined that it should not be forgotten, so they started a fundraising campaign to get work done to the property.

“It was heartbreaking hearing it had to be closed,” said 35-year-old Andrew, who has been involved with sea cadets since he was a teenager.

Derick, 69, added: “We’ve raised over £30,000 and most of it has gone on the roof.

“We’ve had to install fire doors as the old doors were made to look like a ship’s doors and we couldn’t use all of them anymore.

“It is very hard work but I think it will offer children an opportunity to do something rather than sitting on their PlayStations or going out in gangs. I think kids will get a lot out of it.”

About 15 sea cadets were displaced to other boroughs when it was discovered that the centre’s emergency exits and fire doors did not conform to regulations.

Derick, a former Highbury Corner magistrate, has his own personal attachment to the building. He was one of the team who converted the former electrical sub-station into the Sea Cadets’ home in 1982, but stopped being actively involved in the early 1990s. He came back to the committee when the building closed. He and Andrew have given up hours of their free time to get the building in shape.

Selco, a building materials supplier, was among those donating materials and funds to the cause.

Derick and Andrew are now appealing for anyone who has skills, such as carpenters, electricians and plumbers, to lend a helping hand.

“We’ve had kids walking past and asking if they can join, and others always asking when it will be open,” said Andrew, a bus driver.

“We are doing it, but we can get it done quicker with help.” It is hoped the ground floor of the three-storey building will reopen in September.

If you can help Derick and Andrew, email derick.vellosa@btinternet.com

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