Sunderland soldier is a real class act

Private Lennon Ord.
Private Lennon Ord.
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A junior soldier from Sunderland has graduated from the Army Foundation College in Harrogate with a top prize after spending every evening in the gym.

Private Lennon Ord, 17, was awarded the prize for Most Improved Junior Soldier after spending hours of his own time working out at the college at Uniacke Barracks, Penny Pot Lane.

Lennon joined the Army Foundation College in March for a unique course combining vocational education and military training.

He used his new-found strength to help replace sleepers on a train track to receive his Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.

"I feel a lot of pride receiving this award, mainly because I worked as hard as I could all year," he said.

"I improved a lot in terms of my fitness and leadership, I spent lots of time in the gym and running every night in my own time."

Lennon joined the college in March for a course combining vocational education and military training. He got an NVQ in IT and key skills as well as gaining practical soldiering skills.

Lennon, who previously studied at Sunderland College, hopes to join 2nd Battalion The Rifles, who are based in Northern Ireland.

"I’m hoping to travel around the world," he said.

"I like the idea of joining 2nd Battalion The Rifles because I want to be a long way away from home."

The graduation parade at Uniacke Barracks was the finale of the course and thousands of relatives and friends watched the Junior Soldiers pass off the square.

“The graduation parade is the culmination of months of hard work and dedication both by the junior soldiers and the college staff that train them,” said Lieutenant Colonel William Strickland, the College’s Commanding Officer.

"The Junior Soldiers can justly be proud of their achievements at the College, and the staff and I wish them well as they go forward to the second phase of their training at different establishments throughout the country."

Lieutenant General James Bashall CBE, Commander of the Army’s Personnel and Support Command, inspected the Junior Soldiers, presented prizes and took the salute as the military parade marched past the dais.

Junior Soldiers work on their leadership and team skills as part of the college’s personal and team development package. They have undertaken a number of training activities, as well as physical and mental challenges, culminating in a 30-hour challenge patrol across the Yorkshire Dales. Students also had the opportunity to sample a wide variety of sports promoting fitness and agility.

Many have just returned from their final exercise in Scotland - an arduous exercise and the culmination of their fieldcraft and military skills training.

The college opened in 1998 and accommodates 1,344 Junior Soldiers.