Newton Abbot students fired up for the Royal Navy

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Students from Newton Abbot’s pioneering technical college have been pushing all the boundaries to take part in the prestigious Royal Navy Junior Leaders’ Field Gun Challenge.

Youngsters from South Devon University Technical College (UTC) teamed up with Scarborough UTC students to form the UTC Barbarians, undertaking a week-long Royal Navy bootcamp in preparation for the challenge. Taking place at HMS Collingwood in Fareham, Hampshire, the annual contest is led by the Royal Navy and sees teams of 16-24 year olds race against each other to assemble and manoeuvre a Field Gun, used in historical warfare.

The UTC Barbarians joined forces with Scarborough UTC to finish with their best time of one minute 32 seconds after competing against trainees from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, as well as those from the National Sea Cadets and other UK colleges.

This is the fourth year the STEM specialist school has entered the intense challenge, which is very similar to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity Gun Challenge, and is run along a course on a flat track with no obstacles.

The team, led by Gun Captain Ash Brimicombe, Vice-Captain Annie Evans and Limber Captain Stan Popham, trained hard with a Royal Navy instructor ahead of the Field Gun Challenge to be at their best for the arduous Royal Naval tradition that focuses on teamwork, leadership and discipline.

Ash, 19, who is a student at South Devon UTC, has applied to join the Royal Navy as a Marine Engineering Officer, Submariner (MEOSM). He has gained an insight into military lifestyle through this challenge.

Ash commented: “I came away from the day feeling that it was such an honour to experience this. No-one else gets to do or see this. It cemented my decision to join the Royal Navy. My Engineering teacher at the UTC, Mr Stephen Green was a weapons engineer for surface fleet. This together with his reflections on his Navy life inspired me to take a take part in the Junior Leaders Field Gun Challenge and to look at the career pathways in the forces but particularly in the Royal Navy.”

South Devon UTC is one of 11 UTC colleges that are officially affiliated to the Royal Navy. Their work helps to shape the curriculum, providing expert support for highly technical and skilled areas of study, work experience weeks that offer an insight into military systems and interactions on specific dates that ensure visibility and engagement with servicemen.

Claire Plumb, Principal at South Devon UTC, commented: “We’re incredibly proud of our students who took part in this year’s Junior Field Gun Challenge. Once again, they faced the challenge with great enthusiasm and determination that has really paid off. We encourage our young people to participate in challenges such as this one as we believe they gain important life skills such as teamwork, motivation and drive.”

South Devon UTC is now recruiting students for the 2020/21 academic year, but a small number of sixth form places are still available for those interested in starting the college in September 2019. Currently, open mornings are hosted every Friday between 11:30am and 12:30pm. The first Open Event of the 2019/20 term will celebrate Science Week and will be held at the college on Tuesday 8th October 2019. Register your interest to attend by calling 01626 240201 or visit www.southdevonutc.org/open-evenings.

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