Three military servicemen revisited their induction to service life when they returned to Stratford-upon-Avon College to catch up with their former lecturer and share stories of their experiences.
Royal Marine Sam Millard, Army infantryman Dan Ward, and Jake Smith, currently training with the Army Royal Fusiliers Reservists, graduated from the College in 2014. Having grown up and attended primary school together in Hampton Magna in Warwickshire, all three are living out their life-long ambitions to serve in the forces.
They chose to study at Stratford-upon-Avon College as they felt it was the best provider of a specialised Uniformed Public Services course – a career path they have always wanted to pursue. They spent the afternoon back at College on Friday 27 January to meet with their lecturer Oli Wilkins, a former Royal Marine himself.
Jake is taking an apprenticeship with the engineering firm Matrix, based in Coventry, as he completes his reservist training. The intense preparation he received from Oli was particularly inspiring. “It was great to be taught by a lecturer who has served and who knows the reality of service life first hand. The physical training really helped to prepare me.” Jake is now seriously considering full-time service once he has finished his apprenticeship.
Sam is currently stationed in Scotland, having been awarded the Royal Marines’ green beret in January, and is now planning to specialise in weapons training. He too is glad to have had the opportunity to benefit from a vigorous fitness regime prepared by Oli as part of the course. “I feel lucky to have got through my training to be honest. It was the toughest thing I’ve ever done, mentally and physically.”
Dan passed out as an infantryman in February 2016. He initially joined the Army Reserves and immediately took the opportunity to go on tour before transitioning into full-time service. He is now on a peace-keeping mission with the UN, controlling the border in Cyprus. Currently on two weeks leave, he was pleased to find it coincided with Sam’s and Jake’s leave, allowing them all to catch up.
Eager to help current students, all three are now planning to return again as soon as possible to lead workshops and talks, providing an informative insight into life in the military.
Oli Wilkins, lecturer of Uniformed Public Services, was delighted that his former students had chosen to visit the College again. “I’m very pleased that Dan, Jake and Sam felt they had gained so much from the course and its physical training programmes, and I am proud of them for each becoming so successful in their chosen careers. It was a great pleasure hearing about their military experiences first-hand, and our current students will, I’m sure, benefit enormously from future visits.”