NOT everyone can say they wrote their dissertation in the middle of a sandstorm.
But for Richard Speckley it was life on the front line as he studied for a degree in education and training at the University of Portsmouth.
The police officer completed his final year of the course in Afghanistan whilst serving under the Military Provost Staff.
His duties saw him face the Taliban daily and oversee a detention camp full of prisoners.
Richard was called to the region last September while working under the MPS, which specialises in detention and handling military crimes.
After finishing the second year of his degree, the university put together a distance learning programme so Richard could complete his final year in Afghanistan. He rose through the ranks as a member of the Territorial Army before joining the MPS abroad last September.
The father-of- two will be awarded a 2:1 for his degree today at the city’s Guildhall.
The 38-year-old, from Kings Avenue, Chichester, said: ‘It was tough, but I enjoyed every second of it. My education proved to be a valuable distraction to the duties I had to perform out there.’
But the pressure didn’t unnerve him. Yorkshire-born Richard achieved a first class award for his dissertation, which he wrote in the middle of a desert sandstorm.
He said: ‘It was a Sunday afternoon and I was sat doing my dissertation right in the middle of a ferocious sandstorm.
‘It was a surreal experience and amazing I could actually concentrate on doing anything.
‘But I got it done, got a fantastic grade and it’s something I’ll always take with me.’
He couldn’t access his final year course material in Afghanistan, which proved challenging.
‘I had to take all my second year work with me and managed to email the university my assignments,’ he said.
‘But they were very flexible and gave me plenty of time to complete everything which was brilliant.’
It will be back to law and order for Richard as he uses his new skills to teach at Sussex Police, where he has been an officer for 20 years.
He previously completed a diploma in education and training to join the force.
Now his bachelor degree success will see him start a masters in education, training and management from September.
He said: ‘I wanted to continue with my studies and further my career.
‘I’ve only got 10 years left in the police so I’m looking to the future and the options available to me.
‘I can’t thank the British Army enough and my family have been there every step of the way.’