Picture gallery: The Duke of York helps Norwich Sea Cadets celebrate their centenary

The Norwich Sea Cadets were joined by a royal guest today to help them celebrate their centenary anniversary.

The Duke of York arrived at the Norwich Sea Cadet's base, the TS Lord Nelson near Norwich's Foundry Bridge, as the sun began to shine and there was a welcome break in the rain.

He was piped aboard by Petty Officer Cadet Steven Parker, 18, and his 14-year-old brother Able Cadet David Parker, both from Foulsham and who said they were very proud to perform the duty.

'We will remember this for the rest of our lives,' they said.

With the Royal Standard flying from the ship, from the upper deck of TS Lord Nelson the duke enjoyed watching sailing, canoeing, rowing and power boating displays by some of the Norwich sea cadets, and also some cadets visiting from TS Brave in Beccles.

Ordinary Cadet Jenerose Nelson, 15 and from Old Catton, was in one of the rowing boats.

'Everyone was really excited and we tried to put out best efforts in,' she said.

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Eleven-year-old Junior Sea Cadet Josh Gage, from Norwich, was also in one of the rowing boats, and he said it was really fun and quite exciting taking part in the display.

Leading Cadet Kurt Massen, 16 and from Earlham, drove a power boat in the display.

He said: 'I could see the duke as we went past. It was very special. It was once in a lifetime.'

Norwich Sea Cadets Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Mark Janner-Burgess then gave the duke a tour of the ship, and this included the duke observing cadets doing chart work, rope work, marine engineering, and baking.

Cadet Tom Gray, 13 and from Wymondham, showed the duke some rope work.

Tom said: 'He asked me about what made me want to join the cadets and I said I was inspired by my great-granddad and my granddad who were both in the Navy.'

Ordinary Cadet Sophie Ralph, 13 and from Norwich, spoke to the duke about some chart work.

'We showed him the route we were planning and he was asking us about the symbols on the chart.

'He asked if we enjoyed the cadets and I said that I did.'

Ordinary Cadet Hollie-Mae Wright, 12 and from Norwich, was among the cadets baking cakes during the royal visit. She said they baked cakes in the shape of an L and an N to stand for Lord Nelson.

After his tour of the ship, the duke unveiled a plaque celebrating the unit's 100th anniversary and signed the ship's guest book.

He also presented Chief Petty Officer Michael Massen, 49 and from Norwich, with the first clasp on his Cadet Forces Medal, an award for his long-service with the sea cadets.

Chief Petty Officer Massen said: 'It was a complete surprise to me. I did not know anything about the presentation until they called my name.

'The duke asked me how many years the clasp was for and said 'keep up the good work.'

Commanding Officer Janner-Burgess said: 'It was an honour to have the duke visit TS Lord Nelson. He spoke to some of the cadets and he seemed quite impressed with what we have done with TS Lord Nelson since he last visited in 2005.

'We are very lucky he was able to visit us again. All of the cadets are thrilled he has come to see us. It was a big honour for us.'

Simon Macfarlane, president of Norwich Sea Cadets, said: 'There was a lot of excitement from the cadets about the duke's visit. They have been down here every spare minute since they found out about the visit to make sure everything was spick and span for the duke.

'It was a special day for them, and I am so proud of them for what they achieve.'

Thousands of young people have been part of the Norwich Sea Cadets over the past 100 years, and the cadets will celebrate their centenary in June.

The group, which currently has 22 members, offers people aged between 10 and 18 the chance to get involved with watersports, make new friends and learn life-long skills.

• Norwich Sea Cadets meet every Tuesday and Thursday from 7.15pm until 9.30pm. To find out more call 01603 631787 or go to the Norwich Sea Cadets Facebook page.

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