Slideshow: Junior soldiers star at Harrogate parade

Junior soldiers from Harrogate’s Army Foundation College stepped out on their first parade in front of families.

Junior soldiers, aged between 16 and 17, showed off their marching skills at their Passing-In parade at Uniacke barracks in Penny Pot Lane this week.

Junior soldiers (s)

Junior soldiers (s)

Families of the 500 Junior Soldiers had the opportunity to see their sons and daughters for the first time since they started at the college.

Lieutenant Colonel Oz Lane, the Commanding Officer at the Army Foundation College, inspected the parade of Junior Soldiers.

He said: “I am sure that there will be many proud families watching their Junior Soldiers taking their first steps into an Army career. This is the first milestone but nevertheless an important one.

“You have come through the toughest six weeks of your life and you should be rightly proud.”

The 16-year-olds began a mix of military, leadership, educational and vocational training at the College in September.

They will then undertake the more specialist Phase 2 training elsewhere in the UK before joining their Regiments.

Junior soldier Jessica Roberts said: “I have learnt how to do drill, how to fire and maintain a rifle as well as going on two exercises living out in the field.

“I spotted my parents while I was on parade – they were right at the front on chairs. The best bit about going home will be sleeping. I really need some sleep. We get up really early here every morning. The earliest I have got up was 4.30 am to get our kit ready for the morning.”

Catherine Graves travelled to watch her 16-year-old son, Jake.

She said: ““I feel very proud to be here.

“Jake is joining the Royal Artillery and is hoping to be an AS90 gunner. My other son, Ben (18) is in the Royal Signals in Blandford and this has influenced Jake to apply for the Army Foundation College.

“The first week he got stressed about the admin and the ironing but after that he has been fine and is really enjoying it. When he comes home for his break he wants to keep up his fitness.”

Each Junior Soldier took part in an overnight exercise, weekend activities which include kayaking and rock climbing, learning how to march, as well as starting their education in Wider Key Skills.

After the parade and families day, the Junior Soldiers will depart for a week of leave and return in November ready to start the next part of their training at the Army Foundation College.

Pictures supplied.