VOLUNTEER cadets have been praised for their selfless work by Essex Police following a week of recognition.

Harwich Volunteer Police Cadets were praised after a challenging year for them and their leaders, during Volunteers Week.

And, although they and their leaders had to follow Government restrictions like everyone else, they too embraced the digital world so they could stay connected and continue their cadet programme online.

Harwich cadets and their families gave up part of their Christmas Day to ensure lonely and vulnerable members of their community received a meal and a gift bag.

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The young cadets’ commendable work also included each of them individually writing a letter and a Christmas card, as well as a cracker and a gift donated by Craig Newnes, managing director of CGN restaurants, who also sponsors the town’s cadet unit.

On Christmas Day, the cadets, their parents and other volunteers delivered the gift bags and meals cooked by North Essex Support Team to 35 people in the area.

Volunteer police cadet co-ordinator, Neil Dibell, said: “Normally our cadets get involved in community engagement events, working with their community policing team around crime prevention advice, and raising money for charities in the area.

“But this has not been possible for the past 14 months. However, despite the restrictions, leaders have put in a lot of hard work in to keep our cadets engaged, continue their education and provide them with varied experiences, both in the world of policing and beyond.

“As well as arranging relevant policing inputs, leaders also came up with new, fun and innovative ideas to keep their cadets interested, from quizzes and bingo to online cook-a-thons.

“Their enthusiasm has remained undiminished and, this National Volunteers Week, I would like to thank all our cadets and their leaders for the enormous amount of effort they have put in this year to volunteer as much as they can and ensure their units are in great shape when they fully start up again.”

The force has 13 volunteer police cadet units across Essex and, although its 180 cadets have not been able to volunteer as much as usual, Harwich cadets have still managed to thrive.

Mr Dibell added: “As restrictions continue to ease we are returning our 13 units back to face-to-face meetings and the leaders are looking forward to being able to continue the cadet programme while the cadets are looking forward to being visible at community events again.”