A part-time Royal Marine from St Helens credits joining the Naval Reserves with helping him turn his life around.
John Cadwallader freely admits he was on the verge of going off the rails before a recommendation from a friend led him to sign up aged 18.
Now 27, John, who has a full-time job with a security firm, says the skills and opportunities he has enjoyed - including training deployments in Norway and California - have helped him the most out of his last nine years.
He said: “I was a bit irresponsible when I was young, and the marines training was a real shock to me, but I have a lot of time for them because they really helped me turn myself around.
“Joining the Royal Marines means I have done and seen things which I would never have experienced otherwise – and get paid for doing it. The first time I went to America with them I had never travelled before, and it was an amazing experience.
“There’s always a real spirit of camaraderie, and most of my best friends are from the marines.”
In Norway, John and his fellow marines had to cope with temperatures as low as -20 and, at the other end of the scale, in California they were taught altitude warfare skills and how to survive in hot, arid environments.
When needed, the Royal Marines Reserve supplement the full-time ranks with extra manpower, and John, of Rainhill, has also been deployed to Afghanistan during his Marine career.
He added: “Once deployed, you are expected to fit in seamlessly with the regular Marines and this is where our thorough training comes in. I volunteered for a six-month tour of Afghanistan and undertook pre-deployment training before the tour.
“Once there, I was a General Purpose Machine Gunner and, just like all the full-time marines, I wanted to do my bit and see if I could cut it with the regulars. Although it was demanding and challenging at times, it was a phenomenal experience, and I have made friends that I will never lose contact with.”