Hundreds graduate from Army college

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Hundreds of young soldiers took part in a massive military graduation parade last week as they marked the end of their year's training at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate.

546 Junior Soldiers, aged between seventeen and eighteen, marched onto the parade ground at Uniacke Barracks on Thursday morning, 18 August 2011, in front of thousands of friends and family members.

The summer ‘passing-out’ at Harrogate is the largest parade in the British Army after Trooping the Colour, and Europe’s largest military graduation.

The parade was led by the college’s top student, Junior Regimental Sergeant Major Adam Cundy, aged 17, from Ashbourne, Derbyshire, who gave the final words of command and escorted the Reviewing Officer.

Another of the teenagers on parade was Junior Soldier Colby Jensen-Watts, aged 17, from Kings Bromley, Staffordshire - the youngest of four brothers to join the British Army. He will serve alongside them in The Mercian Regiment when he finally completes his infantry training at Catterick at the end of this year.

Senior Army officer Major General Dickie Davis, Director General of Army Recruiting and Training, inspected the Junior Soldiers along with the college’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Khashi Sharifi, and other members of staff from the college’s Cambrai, Peninsula and Waterloo Companies.

The Junior Soldiers, who have undergone a 42-week course in a unique combination of military skills and vocational qualifications, will now receive specialist Phase 2 training in their chosen Army trade.

Lieutenant Colonel Sharifi said:

Twelve months ago the men and women of Intake 25 embarked upon a journey that has been long, demanding, and at times emotional. They are a testament to the very best of this nation’s young people and we can be rightly proud of their achievement.

They have taken that huge stride from civilian to soldier and I have no doubt that they are now fully prepared and armed for the rigors of their Phase 2 training as well as the Field Army beyond that.

They follow in the illustrious footsteps of the thousands of soldiers who have previously passed out from the Army Foundation College and forged a great career in the British Army.

The Army Foundation College is located at Uniacke Barracks on Penny Pot Lane, Harrogate. The college trains more than 1,200 Junior Soldiers each year over a 42-week course, providing 16- and 17-year-olds with military training and vocational education ahead of a career in the British Army.

The teenage troops leave Harrogate after a year with an Apprenticeship for IT Users, which includes a Level 2 Diploma. In addition, soldiers with no previous qualifications can work towards a GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) equivalent in English and maths. Since 2000, the college has awarded over 10,000 apprenticeships and pass rates are above the national average.