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Junior Soldier from York Received Top Prize

Junior Soldier Josh Downes (17)

3:27pm 21st August 2012

A Junior Soldier from York received a top prize when he graduated from the Army Foundation College in Harrogate.

17 year old Junior Soldier Josh Downes was awarded the prize for the Best Junior Soldier in the Infantry at the prestigious college, which caters for sixteen-year-olds.

Josh joined the Army Foundation College in September last year for a unique 42 week long course combining vocational education and military training.

He has gained a City and Guilds apprenticeship for Information Technology users at Level 2, incorporating Functional Skills. 

Since 2000, the College has awarded over 10,000 Apprenticeships and pass rates are above the national average. In addition, soldiers with no previous qualifications can work towards a GCSE equivalent in English and Mathematics

“The prize awarded to Junior Soldier Downes is the culmination of 12 months of hard work and dedication. He can be rightly proud of his achievements at the College and the College staff and myself wish him well as he goes forward to the second phase of his training,” said Lieutenant Colonel Khashi Sharifi, the College’s Commanding Officer.

The Army’s Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall, inspected the parade of 700 Junior Soldiers, and presented Josh with his award at Uniacke Barracks in Penny Pot Lane.

PICTURED: Junior Soldier Josh Downes

Junior Soldier Josh Downes (17)

“I’m so pleased, especially as I’d already been awarded the Junior Company Sergeant Major appointment,” said Josh, a former pupil of Millthorpe School who will join the Coldstream Guards.

“It’s such an honour to be picked – I’m absolutely over the moon! My whole family came to see the parade and my Nans and my Mum were so proud.

“I really can’t wait to get to Battalion and see what life’s like in the real Army. When I get there I’d like to become a PTI (Physical Training Instructor). Seeing the PTIs here in Harrogate has been a real motivator for me. They’re a real inspiration.

“My next big hurdle is going to be the infantry phase of my training in Catterick.  I don’t quite know what to expect, but I’m pretty sure it will be hard work. In the meantime I am looking forward to a good rest over leave.”

Junior Soldiers work on their leadership and team skills as part of the College’s personal and team development package. They undertake a number of adventurous training activities, as well as physical and mental challenges, culminating in a 30 hour challenge patrol across the Yorkshire Dales. The students are also given the opportunity to sample a wide variety of sports promoting fitness and agility.

The Junior Soldiers have just returned from their ten-day final exercise in Garelochhead. The arduous exercise is the culmination of their fieldcraft and military skills training.

The college opened in 1998 and provides training for soldiers destined for all the Army’s many career paths. It now provides training for 1344 Junior Soldiers taking in students twice a year in September and March.

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