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Peace offering to vandals

PUBLISHED: 13:59 29 August 2002 | UPDATED: 12:33 03 March 2010

IPSWICH Sea Cadets have offered an olive branch to thugs who vandalised their training ship - by inviting them to join.

The young yobs caused about £3,000 of damage to Sea Cadet equipment after swimming aboard the TS Orwell, moored in Ipswich docks, on Saturday night.

IPSWICH Sea Cadets have offered an olive branch to thugs who vandalised their training ship - by inviting them to join.

The young yobs caused about £3,000 of damage to Sea Cadet equipment after swimming aboard the TS Orwell, moored in Ipswich docks, on Saturday night.

But despite this latest incident in a series of mindless attacks, John Downie, chief petty officer and officer in charge, said he would be happy to teach the vandals a thing or two.

He said: "I would rather they came to me and asked 'what do you do, can we join?' We could sort it out that way."

Mr Downie admitted the cadets have endured a terrible year since moving the Orwell to make way for the new Haven Marina.

Groups of youths gather at derelict dock land at hurl abuse at Mr Downie and other cadet members.

He said: "It's got to the stage where the first thing we do when we arrive is call 999 because it's so bad.

"Some of the kids are as young as eight, but others must be old enough to drive as they come down in their cars. They stand and throw stones and abuse people who work on the ship and we've had enough."

Saturday night's vandalism left three kayaks split, oars smashed and extensive damage to a number of small vessels used by the cadets.

The Orwell acted as a mobile lighthouse from 1914 to 1975, seeing action in both World Wars, before being given to the cadets.

It is used as a training base for children aged 10 to 18 – some of whom go on to the Navy. Lessons range from shining boots to metrology.

Mr Downie said: "We teach the kids how to become responsible adults."

A Suffolk Police spokesman said derelict land like the docks posed problems for policing.

He said: "It's difficult when you are talking about a site like that which is very isolated and there aren't a lot of people around during the day.

"The only things you can do are a) get expert advice from our crime prevention people and b) appeal to local people who work and live in the area to contact us if they see anything suspicious."

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