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Former infantry soldier paid to learn new trade in Army

A soldier who quit the infantry has gained a new trade while being paid as an Army mechanic.

Craftsman Ryan Cuthbertson, known as Cuth, had always had his sights set on a military career, but started his working life post North Warwick and South Leicester College as a labourer.

The 26-year-old from Hinckley, Leicestershire, said: “I bounced around a few jobs before I joined, mainly on building sites. I wanted to join ever since I was a kid. It seemed like a good way to travel.

...because I’m in the Army, I got paid a full wage to go back to college.” Craftsman Ryan Cuthbertson, 3 Armoured Close Support Battalion REME

“My great grandad was in 17/21st Lancers. He was in World War Two, he did a bit of time in East Africa. Most of the friends I grew up with also ended up joining the military in some capacity.

“I originally joined the infantry as I wanted to be part of a fighting unit but, after doing that for six years, I decided to transfer to the REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) to get some qualifications and get a trade to set me up for the future.

“I wouldn’t have been able afford a civilian apprenticeship because I have a house to pay for but because I’m in the Army, I got paid a full wage to go back to college.”

Now living in Andover, Cuth spends his days diagnosing and fixing vehicles as a mechanic with Tidworth-based 3 Armoured Close Support Battalion REME.

In 2018, he was deployed on what he describes as the highlight of his Army career, which he credits as giving him a better work ethic.

He said: “Op Corded in Malawi, where we did anti-poaching, was a really good tour, 

...we did anti-poaching, probably the best thing I've done in my career."

“We were there for four months, doing three-week rotations, one week training the park rangers, then going out on day patrols, followed by a week out in the bush. It mainly consisted of tracking.”

Cuth’s time in the Army has given him a variety of experiences from Exercise Askari Storm in Kenya which he describes as “really challenging physically with the heat, walking up mountains every day, but, looking back, rewarding”, to being in Germany, France, and Belgium where there was plenty of socialising, skiing, and other pursuits.

Among his hobbies are strength sports. Speaking while on Operation Cabrit, NATO’s enhanced forward presence in Estonia, he said: “In my spare time I power lift and compete in strongman.

“I’ve heard there might be a powerlifting competition against the Estonians so I might do that and there’s been a few Army strongman competitions since I started, so it’s something the Army gives me extra opportunities to participate in.”

The British Army is recruiting right now to fill 10,000 jobs across the UK with more than 200 roles to choose from, covering everything from frontline combat and cyber security to helicopter pilotschefs and support roles. If you’re aged 16 to 50, and if you want to find out more about a career in the Army, click here.