Welcome to the RNR Officers’ Club Liverpool

It is a privilege and honour to welcome you to the RNR Officers’ Club Liverpool, otherwise known as the ‘Sea Urchins’. I hope that you find our web site interesting and informative.

We have a strong and proactive membership, both nationally and internationally, in the region of 130 although we are looking to strengthen our numbers.

I would like to emphasise that we are not just a ‘retired’ organisation and have always welcomed both serving and retired RN, RNR, RM,RMR, WRNS, WRNR, QARNNS and QARNNSR Officers together with non-service members who are actively involved, associated and interested in maritime matters, seagoing or shore side. You can find details on how to become a member on the “Contact” tab.

I joined the Royal Navy in June 1962 at HMS GANGES. After twelve months training as a Junior Seaman, I was drafted to HMS CAMBRIDGE to await a posting to HMS HERMES. After a further twelve months I transferred to HMS TIGER where we did a tour of South America with a stop off at Dakar, Senegal. My next draft was the Guided Missile Destroyer HMS KENT. The ship was designated to join the Far East Fleet on a twelve-month tour. On return to the UK via South Africa and South America I was called to attend a medical board. I failed the eyesight test and was subsequently discharged “Medically unfit”. My career in the RN lasted six years and I was still only 21.

On returning home I visited my local Sea Cadet Unit where I had been a cadet before I joined the RN. The CO of the Unit asked if I would like to volunteer my services.

I needed a new career!! I tried a number of jobs including pub management, factory work and production controller and assistant buyer for a major spice company. I also worked for the local authority running a canal trip boat for disabled passengers. For the last 20 years of my working life I was employed by MENCAP designing and promoting an award scheme, similar to D of E, for people with learning difficulties.

During my 50 years with the Sea Cadets I became an instructor and was commissioned as a Sub  Lieutenant in 1974 and promoted to Lieutenant in 1976. I took command of Ellesmere Port Unit in January 1990 and promoted to Lieutenant Commander in July 1990.

During my time as Commanding Officer I arranged for cadets and staff to visit many and various destinations – Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia, Canada, East and West Coast USA, France, Belgium and Ellesmere Port’s twin town Reutlingen in Germany.

I received an MBE in the 2005 New Year’s Honours List.

Nowadays much of my time is taken up with being a member of the Sea Urchins and the Sea Cadet Association North West branch.  I am also the Chair of the Ellesmere Port/Reutlingen Friendship Group. Our town twinning has been in existence for over 50 years and was originally run by the town council. However, some years ago the local authority felt it was no longer in a position to run the group so a number of local councillors, along with myself and a few others who had taken groups to our twin town in Germany, felt it would be a great loss to the town so we set up our own voluntary group. We help local schools, art groups, football teams and other interested parties to arrange and find funding for visits between the towns. We have also had a number of work experience groups travelling back and forth.

Toni Cioma
Lieutenant Commander (SCC) MBE RNR