IT will be a Christmas to savour for eight St Helens men who are all set to join the Army in the New Year.
After spending the 2011 festive period at home with their families, Leonard Pennington, 22, Craig Carlton, 24, James Tatlock and Luke Smith, both 21, Luke McColl, 19, and 18-year-olds Bradley Glynn, Thomas Smith and James Lucas will all join the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment as infantrymen.
The young soldiers are all set to take on a demanding 28-week combat course at the infantry training centre in Catterick after swearing their oaths of allegiance at the local Army Careers Office last week.
During the gruelling course they will build fitness and stamina through rigorous physical training as well as learning essential soldiering skills – including how to survive in hostile environments and how to maximise fieldcraft and camouflage techniques.
They will also learn crucial first aid skills before specialising in a role such as a machine gunner, sniper, driver, physical training instructor or combat medic.
Bradley Glynn said: “My dad was a Colour Sergeant in the Army for 17 years and he always enjoyed it, so I’m looking forward to following in his footsteps and getting the opportunity to travel all over the world with my career.
“I know the training will be tough, but I’ll be part of a team that never stops learning and gaining new skills, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy Army life.”
James Lucas added: “I was attracted to the role of an Infantryman because it is a very challenging role, and the training at ITC Catterick will enable me to earn while I learn and gain new skills and qualifications, so I’m looking forward to starting the training in the New Year.”
Meanwhile, a junior candidate from St Helens, 16-year-old Chris Shaw, has signed up for 42 weeks of training at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate.
There, he will further his education, gaining vocational qualifications, such as NVQs, whilst also increasing his military knowledge and learning the essential skills needed to become an infantryman.
Chris Shaw said: “It’s hard to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life when you are 16. But I knew I wanted a job where no two days are the same – with the opportunity to travel and progress through the ranks.
“I’m really looking forward to starting the New Year in the Army and meeting lots of new people.”
Colour Sergeant Nick Froehling, of the St Helens Army Careers Office, said: “During training, each candidate will learn that being a soldier is about putting others first and having the courage and skills to know the right thing to do in any given situation, at home or abroad.
“All nine young lads are fit, motivated and determined candidates, so I’m sure they will rise to the challenge of the tough training and complete it to the best of their ability.”