A TEENAGER from Barnsley has climbed the ranks in the Sea Cadets and bagged an honour awarded to less than one per cent in the country.

James Sandham-Mulholland, 18, started at the Sea Cadets on his 13th birthday and within five years he had become one of only ten – out of a possible 1,335 – registered cadets in the country to be awarded the ‘Cadet Sergeant’ rank.

Maddison Brown, 27, chair of the Sea Cadets in Barnsley, said: “He’s doing his A-Levels, he’s part of a rugby team and he has a part-time job.

“For him to reach that level is a fantastic achievement for him and for us as a group.”

James had to go through challenges that demonstrated leadership, dedication, and a certain level of proficiency in various skills to achieve the rank.

This included numerous times when he had to be out completing challenges in all weather conditions, including during a winter storm.

Maddison said: “It’s so rare to achieve that rank – to the point that in about ten years we’ve only had one. We’ve had so many great cadets come through the doors, so it’s definitely hard work.”

The group helps teenagers from all walks of life, including those with confidence issues, those whose second language is English, and those from deprived backgrounds.

Maddison, a volunteer herself, took over as chair five years ago.

She said that when she took over, the group had a lack of funding to the point where the roof was missing from their building.

“We had ivy vines growing through the building so we had to get all that removed, and now we have brand new kitchens, bathrooms, and classrooms,” she added.

“I put in quite a lot of hours alongside my day job to get it sorted, including a fundraiser which raised £250,000 for us to fund it.”