The commanding officer of Middlesbrough Sea Cadets has won a Teesside Hero award for his unswerving commitment to the organisation and its youth development ideals.
Matthew Stamp became a sea cadet when he was 13 and worked his way up to become a member of staff on his 18th birthday.
He has held numerous titles and completed many courses to achieve his current commanding officer position – a role he gives 100% focus in his free time.
And the 29-year-old teaching assistant has now received a Teesside Hero award and recognition from Middlesbrough charity Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, which has backed Middlesbrough Sea Cadets financially in the past.
Under Matthew’s guidance, Middlesbrough Sea Cadets – known as TS Erimus – aim to teach youngsters aged 10 to 18 Royal Navy disciplines such as teamwork, self-discipline and courage, helping them to become responsible citizens.
Matthew had to lead from the front in late 2018 when the group’s headquarters at the Old Lodge, next to Albert Park lake, flooded, leaving the kitchen and main deck afloat.
He worked tirelessly to save the facility, cleaning from early morning until late at night.
Some staff felt they were better off elsewhere at the time, leaving after their drama group equipment was damaged by flood water.
But Matthew never gave up and added new recruits – the unit now has 10 staff members and 30 cadets, which earned it the annual McBeath Trophy award for meritorious performance.
Matthew encouraged the group’s staff and cadets to work even harder after receiving the trophy, resulting in yet another award and the news that it is Teesside’s top unit, as voted for by the Marine Society and Sea Cadets’ Tyneside and Teesside Branch.
The unit recently collected £2,500 for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, and although money is tight Matthew has organised a Trafalgar night dinner for the cadets and already has a Christmas dinner and party lined up for December.
Matthew received his Teesside Hero award from Middlesbrough mayor and Teesside Philanthropic founder Andy Preston, together with a welcome £1,000 cheque for Middlesbrough Sea Cadets.
Matthew, a teaching assistant at King Edwin School in Norton, said: “I’m shocked and amazed to win a Teesside Hero award, it’s very flattering and humbling.
“I’ve been volunteering with the Sea Cadets two nights a week plus more for about 12 years now.
“It has given me management skills which are useful in my job, a social life and a hobby, and a sense of belonging.
“Working with young people keeps me going,” he added. “Seeing them progress and gain confidence from being shy at first to developing into responsible, well-rounded young people is really rewarding.”
Middlesbrough Sea Cadets comprise two sections: juniors aged 10-12 and seniors from ages 12-18.
Its forthcoming events include an offshore voyage in August, when the unit will spend a week on board a ship going from Arbroath to Hartlepool, completing tasks such as navigating and weather forecasting on route.
Liz Chambers, vice-chairman of Middlesbrough Sea Cadets who nominated Matthew for his award, said: “Matthew has the Middlesbrough Sea Cadet unit in his blood.
“He is very busy with his day job, but it never deters him from fulfilling his commitment to the cadets and staff of TS Erimus.”
Matthew added: “The £1,000 from Teesside Philanthropic Foundation is a big bonus for us.
“We are donation-led and don’t get any baseline grants or cash from the Royal Navy or Ministry of Defence.”
The money will be used to buy a new gazebo with a Sea Cadets logo on it to enhance the unit’s profile, along with flags and new equipment.