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New college in South Shields aims to give young people a taste of military life

New Military Preperation College. Staff  Emma Longstaff and Richard Harnot with the student. Instructor Lee Smith, centre back.
New Military Preperation College. Staff Emma Longstaff and Richard Harnot with the student. Instructor Lee Smith, centre back.

Young people looking for a life in the military are being given a helping hand to launch their career in South Tyneside.

A Military Preparation College has now been set up at the Army Reserve Centre in Northfield Gardens, Highfield Road, South Shields.

It’s about working as a team and getting in that mindset now, so when I apply to become part of the Royal Navy, I’m already two steps ahead of those who haven’t been in this kind of environment.

Louis Connolly

Led by former soliders, it aims to give people aged between 16 and 23 a chance to learn the skills needed and reach the stardard required to join the armed forces.

It is also open to those who may not want a life in the military but want to boost their employability prospects.

The college, one of a number nationally, is led by Richard Harnott, who spent 15 years in the Light Dragoons.

He is supported by Lee Smith, who served 13-years with the Coldstream Guards and Emma Longstraff who served in the British Army. It is the only course which is promoted by the Army Careers Office.

Mr Harnott said: “The course is designed for those who want to join the military but it can also help those looking to gain employment in other areas. The sessions help to break down barriers to self-confidence and how to deal with instructions.”

The course is a mixture of classroom based and physical activities which promote teamwork through a variety of tasks and games.

Sessions are held Monday to Thursday for those aged 16-18 and Monday to Wednesday for those aged 19 and above - although they can attend on a Thursday on a voluntary basis.

The course, approved by the government, is open to anyone aged 16-23. There may be bursaries available for those eligible.

Louis Connolly, 17, from South Shields, is one of the first recruits to sign up to the college.

He is currently a member of the Royal Navy Reserves but has set his sights on becoming a full-time member of the Royal Navy.

Louis a former student at St Wilfrid’s RC College, said: “I have only been here for two weeks but I think it’s great.

“I tried sixth form but it wasn’t for me. I joined the Royal Navy Reserves and I know I need to improve my fitness if I’m to become full-time.

“We do fitness every day, but everyone supports each other. It’s about working as a team and getting in that mindset now, so when I apply to become part of the Royal Navy, I’m already two steps ahead of those who haven’t been in this kind of environment.”

For details on the course visit https://mpct.co.uk or call 0330 111 3939.