A Royal Navy recruit from Trinidad and Tobago had the surprise of his life when his mother turned up at his passing out parade, thanks to the generosity of a fellow trainee.
Recruit Quaci Crosby joined the Royal Navy in March and is among the latest group of trainee sailors celebrating the end of their 10-week basic training course at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall.
He wasn’t expecting his mother, Althea Crosby, who did not have the funds to pay for a flight, to be in the group of families and friends invited to the parade.
But unbeknown to him, his comrade, Recruit Cameron Hawes, had secretly organised and paid for Recruit Crosby’s mother to be flown 7,000 miles to be at her son’s big day.
Recruit Hawes sought the assistance of his own mother, Sarah Hole, to put his plan into action. She transferred some of Cameron’s savings to Mrs Crosby so that she could purchase a flight to the UK.
After flying thousands of miles to be at the parade to witness her son - following his dreams of joining the Royal Navy, Mrs Crosby said:
“I can’t even describe it, it was just so thrilling.”
Explaining his decision to organise the surprise, 20-year-old recruit Hawes said:
“In week five the class was starting to talk about our parade and who we were going to invite.
“Recruit Crosby said that while he wanted to bring his mum, he didn’t have the funds to bring her across and I thought that was a bit sad.
“When we got to week seven we started talking about it again. It was then that I phoned my mum and said I wanted to do something."
After Recruit Hawes told the training staff and his fellow trainees what he had done, the surprise became more of a team effort. He said:
“I asked if anyone else would like to contribute, to make it a group thing, rather than just me, and we’ve raised about £500, which is nearly half the cost of the flight.
“It has been quite hard to keep it a secret because he [Crosby] has been talking about what he is going to do and where he is going to stay after we pass out.
“As a class, we haven’t really spoken about it because we have been busy every day, but as the day grew nearer we started to get excited.”
Miss Hole even arranged and covered the cost of Mrs Crosby’s transport to Plymouth and her accommodation costs. She also mobilized the support of other families to help host Mrs Crosby during her stay in the UK. The proud mum said:
“Cameron has always been really careful with his money, so this has completely shocked me.
“As a family we knew nothing about the Royal Navy until Cameron joined.
“We are all so excited and proud of this group of young people and what they have achieved and cannot thank HMS Raleigh enough for looking after our loved ones for the past ten weeks.”
Recruit Hawes generosity later earned him a surprise of his own when he was presented with a commendation by HMS Raleigh’s Commanding Officer, Captain Rich Harris, during the passing out parade.
Recruit Hawes never expected to be presented the award and said:
“I don’t see what I’ve done as a big thing really. I was saving for a rainy day and this is that rainy day.”
Capt Harris, who presented the award, said:
“A key part of our training at Raleigh is to instil our core values into those who join the RN, namely; Courage, Commitment, Discipline, Respect for others, Integrity and Loyalty.
“This particular act embodies many of those values and also is a firm example of the teamwork, camaraderie, and mutual support that we require from our people at sea.
Nonetheless, Recruit Hawes, his fellow recruits and the families have taken extraordinary measures on this occasion and are highly commended for it.”
While the two recruits are now due to go their separate ways for the second stage of their training – Recruit Hawes is heading to HMS Sultan, while Recruit Crosby will stay at HMS Raleigh - they are both adamant they will stay in touch.
Recruit Hawes said:
“Everyone in the class is close, but Crosby and I have been best friends from the start really.
“We talk about the same stuff - I play basketball and he knows a bit about it.
“We share the same opinions on most things and he’s always had my back.
“I’ve found training really stressful, but he’s been really supportive. When I failed my kit muster in week seven, I was really disappointed because I tried really hard and he helped me get my kit sorted so I could pass.”