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Teenage kicks: Army College youngsters graduate

Around 750 Junior Soldiers (JS) passed out of basic training in North Yorkshire on the 5th August and are set to embark on the next stage of their careers.

The latest cohort from Harrogate’s Army Foundation College (AFC), the first to graduate in front of their loved ones for 18 months, stepped off the parade square to mark their collective achievement.

Lieutenant Colonel Farebrother MC, Commanding Officer at the AFC, was full of praise for those who had been excellently tutored by his instructors.

He said: “They have had an extremely tough year, coping with long periods away from their families and loved ones whilst becoming the trained soldiers you see before you today.

“It is absolutely fantastic to see the stands full again once more. Whilst we made do with livestreams and limited numbers, there is no replacement for the atmosphere of a crowd, full of beaming smiles and proud families.”

The AFC trains soldiers under the age of 18, giving them a good grounding in education and social skills in addition to the traditional military syllabus.

While the Covid-19 pandemic initially posed issues for training, these were mitigated through the use of rigorous control measures and the hard work of Army instructors.

I set myself goals and was motivated to be the best JS Morgan

17-year-old JS Morgan, who lives in Shropshire, was recognised as the best soldier out of the entire parade.

He said: “At the start of training, I never thought I would win an award or be anywhere close to being the best. My only goal was to pass the initial training course. I set myself goals and was motivated to be the best.

“My advice to aspiring JS would be to just make sure you are in the right place, at the right time, with the right stuff. Also don’t forget to dust your desk ready for room inspections!”

The parade is the largest of its kind in Europe and featured a flypast from an RAF Typhoon, a jump from the Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) parachute display team, and a speech from Lieutenant General Cave CB, Commander of Home Command and Standing Joint Commander (SJC).

The recruits will now head off to their respective trade training units across the country.