Paras adopt Norfolk college

The Parachute Regiment has taken a Norfolk college under its wing.It is the first time the renowned unit has been affiliated with a college anywhere in the country.

The Parachute Regiment has taken a Norfolk college under its wing.

It is the first time the renowned unit has been affiliated with a college anywhere in the country.

Pupils who sign up for a public services course at East Norfolk Six Form College's can wear the regiment's famous winged badge on their berets as part of the affiliation, which will also see pupils train with soldiers and use their equipment.

The honour was bestowed upon the college at Gorleston after officers from the regiment visited it as part of a routine recruitment drive and were impressed by the students' professionalism and dedication.

Cpt Rob Francis spoke to pupils yesterday who wanted to join his company, telling them the parachute regiment was the army's ultimate challenge.

He said: “We want fit young lads who aren't interested in playing Playstation all night but want to get out there. These lads are already committed to being fit and running around. This is a good place for us to recruit.”

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The college specialises in vocational training and runs a public services course, which is one of the best in the country. About 250 youngsters who want to join any of the uniformed services, including the police and fire service, take the course which has exclusive use of the army's battle field training area near Thetford.

Cpt Francis presented youngsters who had walked 44-miles in just 16 hours with a trophy yesterday.

The 44-mile march was a reconstruction of a legendary hike that paratroopers did across the Falklands Island 25 years ago before fighting a 12-hour battle.

Graham Moore, head of the public services department, said: “We made them walk it and then ask them whether they would be able to fight a 12 hour battle. They could only just stagger to the bus.”

And he said: “Being affiliated with the Paras is a great opportunity for us. Obviously our knowledge of battles is limited. The Paras can bring realism to the course from their own experiences.”

Todd Inns, 17, said: “It took a week to recover from the walk I felt so knackered, let alone fighting a battle.”

And Tom Page, 16, said: “I am hoping with this affiliation that we will be able to do a lot more on exercises.”

Headteacher Laurie Poulson said: “It is a reflection on the course that an elite regiment approached us to be affiliated.

“Military top brass often can't believe they are just a bunch of students because they are so efficient in their work,” he added.