Two young men from Hampshire join Parachute Regiment with distinction

TWO young men from Hampshire have passed out from training with the Parachute Regiment with distinction.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 11:29 am
Updated Monday, 12th July 2021, 7:59 pm
Private Mitchell Rock, left, from Fareham, and Private Shane Wilkinson, from Leigh Park

This month, they earned their legendary maroon berets and were praised by the Colonel Commandant, Lieutenant General Sir John Lorimer at the Army’s Infantry Training Centre at Catterick Garrison, Yorkshire.

Private Shayne Wilkinson, from Leigh Park, was chosen as Champion Recruit, closely followed by Private Mitchell Rock, from Fareham, who was Runner Up.

Over eight months the two soldiers have endured the rigours and dangers of P Company, one of the toughest British military tests ever designed. They have also been put through exhausting defence exercises, plus hand grenade throwing, bayonet practice and live weapons firing.

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All the while they have been confined to their camp billets and away from their families due to the Covid lockdown. Although from differing backgrounds, both men have become close friends.

Their mutual respect has been earned during the gruelling training regime designed to bring airborne soldiers up to razor sharp fitness. P Company involves 20-mile speed marches in full kit, assault courses, steeple chases, log carrying races and confidence-building exercises on a high trainasium.

Shayne, 29, said: ‘Before joining I was a construction site supervisor. Many of my relatives are Royal Navy people but I’ve wanted to be a Para for over eight years now. The separation from my partner Zoe and our children Ava, six, Indi, five, and Archie, three has been hard. But they are supporting me 100 per cent during my change in career.

‘After a short spell of leave I will join the 3rd battalion of the Regiment at Colchester.’

A talented violinist and oboe player, Mitchell Rock, 27, served seven years as a musician in the Royal Marine Band Service.

He played with the Royal Band in Portsmouth, the Plymouth Band and the Commando Training Centre Band in Devon. He met the Duke of Edinburgh during his visit to the RM School of Music.

He said: ‘I enjoyed being in the Marines but I needed that extra challenge of being a Para. It’s been far from easy but I’ve not been disappointed, I have been selected to join the 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment, in Colchester.’

Later in their careers both men will go to RAF Brize Norton to learn how to jump from aircraft.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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