Seventeen-year-old Sea Cadet, Leading Cadet Apple-Jane, from Brentwood wrote a letter for all children who, like her, have a parent who is a frontline worker. Her letter, a heartfelt message of reassurance, is only part of a series of goodwill gestures this Sea Cadet has made in 2020.

Apple-Jane’s mother, Samantha, explained: “AJ was also struggling with worries about her father who is an Officer at Brentwood Fire Station, so she decided to put her feelings down on paper.”

Leading Cadet Apple-Jane said she would like as many children as possible to read it, with the hope that they will realise that they are not alone.

AJ wrote an open letter to the children of frontline workers to let them know that they are not alone and that other children have the same worries too. AJ sent this to her English Teacher and the letter was then shared on social media, and Apple-Jane has had many families get in touch with her to tell her about how it motivated them to sit down with their children and talk about the situation.

Apple-Jane’s letter inspired the London Ambulance Service to write a letter to every child of their staff members, thanking them for sharing their parents with the service throughout the pandemic.

But Apple-Jane didn’t stop there. AJ and other Sea Cadets, which she called to action, volunteered during the coronavirus lockdown by supporting the lonely and vulnerable within their community. She has been phoning members of the local community in need of a friendly chat, through the Royal Naval Association.

Her wish to help others then progressed to volunteering with the Brentwood COVID-19 Mutual Aid Group where she supported the community at large by distributing recycling sacks, cooking and delivering hot meals to lonely and vulnerable members of society.

“I wanted to do something positive to make a difference to let the lonely and vulnerable people in our community know that someone is thinking about them, so they know they are not alone.” AJ explains.

Petty Officer Cadet Apple-Jane BEM subsequently became the first Cadet to receive an honour, being awarded a BEM for her efforts in the (delayed) Queen’s Birthday Honours List.