Military mentors give youngsters a taste of forces

IN TENTS TRAINING  Emma Abraham from Lee-on-the-Solent and Will Clarke from Gosport. Picture: Malcolm Wells (131201-2029)

IN TENTS TRAINING Emma Abraham from Lee-on-the-Solent and Will Clarke from Gosport. Picture: Malcolm Wells (131201-2029)

March 1962 and a naval rating signals Halt to more conventional traffic as the Saunders-Roe SRN1 crosses the seafront at Lee-on-the-Solent and returns to HMS Ariel, now the site of the Hovercraft Museum. Roles such as anti-submarine warfare, air-sea rescue and mine countermeasures were foreseen.						                                Pictures courtesy Amberley Publishing

Spotlight hovers over Lee-on-the-Solent museum

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TUCKED away in a quiet residential area, a new organisation is teaching the next generation of soldiers, sailors and airmen and women.

Military Mentors, based in Bath Lane Fareham, has been set up to help teenagers who aren’t interested in following more traditional academic routes, but are keen on a career in the armed forces.

It was started earlier this year by Tony West, a former head of the Royal Navy police, who himself signed up at 16 without any qualifications.

Mr West, 54, said: ‘A lot of these kids come from backgrounds where you could describe them as having issues, but they’re basically good kids.

‘The key is that they want to be here - we’ve taken on some of these kids who had very low attendance at school or college, and here they’re at more than 90 per cent attendance.

‘We are going to get lots of good sailors, soldiers and airmen, and lots of non-commissioned officers, but it’s not meant to be Sandhurst.’

Anthony Tew, a former soldier, is the only other full-time member of staff at the moment, and he puts the teenagers through their paces in the classroom and in daily physical training.

But their are weekly guest speakers from different aspects of the armed forces, and several volunteers who come in and help out with some of the sessions.

And with a rolling year-long programme, the youngsters don’t have to wait until the start of the year, they can join at any time.

George Sutton, 17, from Fareham said: ‘I was doing A Levels, but it wasn’t something I really wanted to do, I wanted to join the Royal Marines.

‘This has got everything, every day is different. It’s difficult, but it’s worth it.’

Brad Reid, 15, from Waterlooville, added: ‘I got kicked out of school, and they said the only way I could come back was if I came here.

‘I really like it here, I want to join the army and I don’t get bored here.’

And they have recently been awarded £4,999 by Fareham Borough Council after making a successful bid to its community fund programme.

The cash will be used to buy sports equipment, tents, field gear and the materials to create a secure bike shelter for the youngsters.

To find out more go to militarymentors.co.uk or call 07856 975376.

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