Collingwood is centre stage as gun runners battle across course

HMS COLLINGWOOD'S tarmac took a pounding from young runners as teams competed in the annual Junior Leaders Field Gun Competition.

Saturday, 9th July 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 6:47 pm
Itchen College Start their run for home closely challenged by one of the other teams Pictures: Keith Woodland

The competition yesterday saw young people between the ages of 16 to 24, carrying a field gun as quickly as they could at the training base in Fareham.

Fareham College, HMS Collingwood and HMS Sultan were just a few of the 17 teams competing in the event, which saw HMS Neptune’s SMQ North team win the final.

All the competitors came into the event with little to no training in field gun running and were taught the skills involved over the course of the week.

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Itchen College Start their run for home closely challenged by one of the other teams Pictures: Keith Woodland

Glen Young, who organised this year’s run, said: ‘It’s amazing to see what happens when you train young people like this and witness the strong camaraderie among them by the time it gets to the final day.

‘Each and every one of them has been excellent and has put their heart and soul into the training.

‘They go through about every emotion you can think of when they’re pushing that gun up and down across the field.’

The event was first held in 2007 and was in huge demand this year with 41 organisations applying to take part.

Chichester Cllege in action

It follows last month’s event, which saw senior crews battle out in the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Charity field gun tournament in front of 6,000 spectators.

The contest revolves around a team of 18 sprinting a field gun that weighs the same size as a small family car across the track, with the gun having to be fired three times. Penalties can be added if mistakes are found.

Owen Harris, from Fareham, decided to join the navy at the age of 33 and was allowed to part as a member of the HMS Sultan team as a special dispensation.

He said: ‘It has been an amazing experience. I’ve loved the whole week.

HMS Collingwood's Victory Squadron take the strain

‘We’ve really bonded together as a group and it has been a learning curve.’

Owen, who previously worked in IT, says his decision to switch computers for the sea was ‘the best he ever made’.

He added: ‘Today has been a perfect indicator of what life in the navy is like.

‘You get a sense of belonging here and days like this make it special.’

The Princes's Trust from Highbury College

HMS Sultan’s gun runners snatched third place in the hotly-contested final.

Itchen College Start their run for home closely challenged by one of the other teams Pictures: Keith Woodland
Chichester Cllege in action
HMS Collingwood's Victory Squadron take the strain
The Princes's Trust from Highbury College