Celebrating the nation’s heroes of tomorrow

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HUNDREDS of teenage soldiers took part yesterday in one of the Army’s largest parades after completing their gruelling 12-month training programme.

A total of 328 Junior Soldiers, aged between 17 and 18, were involved in the military graduation parade at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate in front of thousands of friends and family.

The “passing-out” at Harrogate, which took place at the spa town’s Uniacke Barracks, is the biggest parade in the British Army after Trooping the Colour and it is Europe’s largest military graduation. The parade was led off the square by the college’s best recruit, Junior Regimental Sergeant Major Sam Rothery, 17, from Boreham Wood in Hertfordshire.

The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Khashi Sharifi, said: “The graduation parade was the culmination of 12 months of hard work and dedication. These young men and women can be rightly proud of their achievements at the college.

“We were delighted to be able to share this special day with their families and friends, whose support was invaluable during this challenging, demanding and, at times, emotional year.”

Lieutenant General Richard Barrons, the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Military Strategy and Operations), inspected the Junior Soldiers during yesterday’s parade. The Junior Soldiers, who have undergone a 42-week course combining military skills and vocational qualifications, will now receive specialist training in their chosen Army trade.

The Army Foundation College, located on Penny Pot Lane in Harrogate, trains more than 1,300 Junior Soldiers each year.