Recruits sign up for the Army as cuts threaten Staffords' name
SEVENTEEN teenagers have taken their first steps towards a military career by joining the Army.
The new recruits, who are all aged between 16 and 18 years old, pledged allegiance to Queen and country in front of proud family and friends.
And now the group are preparing for a 42-week-long stay at the Army Foundation College, in Harrogate.
They will travel up on Sunday and work towards gaining first class military and vocational training while earning an average salary of £17,500.
Purchase this property and receive £250 towards legal fees !! New on the market with no vendor chain !
Terms: Subject to offer and terms and conditions, contact the office for further information.
Contact: 01782 940925
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
The group signed up for the Staffords at the Territorial Army Centre in Longton as a battle to save the name and traditions of the battalion continues.
Among the new recruits is Nathan Jones, aged 16, of Newcastle, who is backing the campaign to stop the battalion being wiped from the Army’s Order of Battle.
The former Newcastle Community High School pupil said: “We have been told that when it does happen we will be put into a different Mercian regiment, but I just think it’s unfair that I signed up to be a Stafford and that is being taken away from us now.”
He added: “Being deployed is something that is always in the back of my mind, but it is part of the job.”
Ashley Kelsall, aged 16, from Norton, has also signed up.
And he backed the campaign against plans to scrap the name of the 3rd Battalion of the Mercian Regiment (Staffords).
Ashley said: “I don’t like the fact they are getting rid of the Staffords, but it doesn’t make me want to sign up any less.
“Everyone knows us as the Staffords and that’s how I will always think of myself.”
The former Holden Lane High School pupil added: “I have family in the Army and they tell me stories about what it’s like so I decided I wanted to follow in their footsteps.
“The regiment is going out to Afghanistan next year but we have been told we won’t be going.
“But the prospect of being deployed doesn’t worry me because we will be trained.”
Fellow recruit Ben Hughes, aged 16, of Meir, added: “Saving the Staffords name is something I feel really strongly about and it is a shame it has come to this.”
The recruits will also get the chance to further improve their numeracy and literacy skills, as well as earn an apprenticeship.
The Government announced in July that the Staffords would be scrapped as part of cuts to reduce the Army by 20,000 troops.
Major Jimmy Lamb, Army recruitment officer for the region, said the planned cuts have not deterred people from signing up.
The office has recruited nearly half its required number for the year after just three months, with 75 people signing up since April, out of an annual target of 163.
He said: “There are not a lot of employment opportunities in this area because the industry has gone, so the Army is a first choice career because people are learning a trade.”