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Standing on the parade square at HMS Raleigh with his family and lecturers proudly cheering him on was a moment that Stephen Morris from Melksham will never forget.
His dream of joining the Royal Navy is now a reality after completing the gruelling 10-week basic training.
Public services lecturers at Wiltshire College Mark Williams and Joe Mitchell said they were both honoured to be invited and attended Stephen’s pass out parade on Friday 11th September, when he told them, “I couldn’t have done it without you two.”
Stephen joined Wiltshire College in 2013 as a level 3 uniformed public services student, and in that time made a big impact.
Mark said, “Stephen was an excellent public services student, who went above and beyond his normal student role and particularly relished leadership challenges.
“Any opportunity to develop those skills and Stephen was there, whether it was assisting myself with first year students on expedition on Dartmoor or supporting the director of campus in Chippenham in several areas, including mentoring vulnerable students and assisting in the interviewing of potential UPS students.
“I am sure he will have a gleaming career with the Royal Navy.”
With his father in the navy, Stephen knew from an early age he wanted to follow in his footsteps and applied on his 16th birthday. Unfortunately, medical circumstances meant he was not able to join at that time and so he decided that the public services course would be the best alternative and a way to prepare himself.
Stephen said, “At times I found it really hard, because it was quite a long wait for me being able to join, but the support I had from my parents, sister and the lecturers at college, really did help me.
“The course provided the perfect balance of physical and mental elements needed to join the navy, or any of the armed forces.
“The basic training was incredibly tough, the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but the course at college really prepared me for it.
“It also gave me a great insight into the dedication you need to stick at it.”
Stephen said the passing out parade at HMS Raleigh – the Royal Navy’s largest training establishment in the South West – was a great event and an “unforgettable experience”.
He said, “It has been the best 10 weeks of my life, as well as the toughest.
“It shows the real person and character you are.
“The passing out parade to celebrate that was a great event.
“It was nice to have my family there and Mark and Joe and was a really nice feeling to officially complete the initial training.”
He was also extremely proud to win the Gagnes award for Outstanding Leadership.
During basic training different course leaders are usually selected each week and are responsible for the welfare and performance of their fellow recruits.
However, after being selected for the role in the second week, Stephen remained course leader until the end, with the commander stating that this intake had the highest recruit retention for eight years.
Stephen started his second phase of training at HMS Collingwood in Portsmouth earlier this month and will specialise in weapons and systems.
He will then receive his first posting when his training is complete next spring.