ARMY recruits swore an oath of allegiance to Queen and country, beginning their military career in style at a ceremony at Portsmouth Guildhall.
Seventeen recruits stood before the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, officers, family and friends in the first event of its kind in Portsmouth.
Taking the oath is usually low-key but the army decided to make it more of a spectacle because of the number of new recruits coming through the tough selection process at the same time.
The recruits, most of whom are from around Portsmouth, had gone through months of physical and mental tests ahead of being sworn in at the The Lord Mayor’s Banqueting Room yesterday.
They will now advance to The Army Foundation College in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, for basic training.
Sixteen-year-old Dale Parrett-Harris, from Horndean, is set to join the Royal Engineers as a communications specialist.
He said: ‘Taking the oath was nerve-wracking to start with but once we were doing it in a big group like that it was fine.
‘It’s exciting. I just can’t wait to get started now.’
Dale’s father Stuart Parrett-Harris, 43, said: ‘I’m very proud of him. He’s decided what he wants to do and I hope he will enjoy it.
‘I never had any intention of stopping him doing what he wanted to do. If he ends up going to the front line then that’s just part of his job.’
Many of the recruits had come through the army careers office in Cambridge Road, Portsmouth.
Warrant Officer Christopher Russ, who is head of army recruitment for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, said: ‘We’re seeing more and more people wanting to join the army and despite what you hear or read about defence cuts, we are recruiting. We’ve got to recruit at least 9,000-plus next year nationally and it will probably increase year on year.’
At the end of the ceremony, WO2 Russ was presented with the Queen’s Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of his 34 years of service.
He said: ‘It’s a very proud day for me.’
n Those sworn in were: Joshua Jupe, 17, Daniel Hobbs, 16, Dale Parrett-Harris, 16, Connor Jones, 16, Luke Gillies, 16, Oliver Tonkin, 16, Ryan Drury, 17, Amber Hague, 21, Josiah Bairikoro, 31, Marcus Le Cornu, 19, Molly Rivers, 17, Michael Goodger, 18, Darren Addis, 20, Ben Crawford, 22, Owen Steel, 18, Simon Wilson, 22, and Chris Buckley, 21.