Parade marks junior soldiers’ graduation

Junior soldiers during their final march past.
Junior soldiers during their final march past.

Around 400 junior soldiers graduated from Army Foundation College (AFC) Harrogate last week during a ceremony in front of gathered friends and family.

The parade, one of Europe’s largest, was overseen by Stuart Andrew MP, the Minister for Defence Procurement, and Warrant Officer Class One (WO1) Gavin Paton, who is the Army Sergeant Major.

The RT Hon Stuart Andrew MP and Lieutenant Colonel RJ Hall (MBE) Commanding Officer of AFC Harrogate have a chat at breakfast.

The RT Hon Stuart Andrew MP and Lieutenant Colonel RJ Hall (MBE) Commanding Officer of AFC Harrogate have a chat at breakfast.

Warrant Officer Paton said: “Harrogate offers something unique for British teenagers.

“The training pipeline focuses on leadership, education and providing opportunities that differ vastly from the civilian sector.”

The AFC trains over 1,200 young troops every year, with the 16 and 17-year-old recruits also enrolled onto the Army Apprenticeship Scheme.

One of the soldiers to benefit from the college, Junior Soldier (JS) Kate Burton, 17, said: “It was such a proud moment to see all my family and friends, and stand in front of them on parade.

Breakfast is lined up.

Breakfast is lined up.

“I’ve developed as a person; working on things like courage and forming deep friendships that I probably wouldn’t get elsewhere.

“I hope to stay in touch with most of those friends and will now go on to my musical training in Twickenham.”

JS Burton and the rest of her cohort will commence their respective trade training courses in the near future, with some due to move to Infantry Training Centre Catterick.

When it comes to final words of advice, Warrant Officer Paton encouraged youngsters, saying: “Identify what it is that you want to do with your Army career and give it your best shot.”

The Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland provided the music.

The Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland provided the music.

Senior inspecting officer, The RT Hon Stuart Andrew MP Minister for Defence Procurement, inspects the newest members of the British Army at the parade.

Senior inspecting officer, The RT Hon Stuart Andrew MP Minister for Defence Procurement, inspects the newest members of the British Army at the parade.