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Reservist officers and ratings pass out of training in unique combined parade

Prince Michael of Kent inspects the parade
14 September 2021
For the first time Reservist officers and ratings passed out side-by-side after completing their training.

Prince Michael of Kent formally welcomed the latest batch of freshly-trained volunteers to the Royal Naval Reserve family in the unique combined passing-out parade at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.

The Commodore-in-Chief of the Maritime Reserve inspected the successful personnel who had all completed accelerated training packages, which reduced civilian-to-sailor conversion times from one year to just five weeks for ratings and from two years to eight weeks for officers. 

That intensive training was carried out at HMS Raleigh, BRNC and aboard the nation’s newest aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales.

Over several weeks, the Reservists developed their leadership skills and ability to work as a team and grappled with challenges unique to Naval life, such as weapon handling, seamanship and damage control.

“I arrived at Britannia Royal Naval College as a civilian with no military bearing and I have transformed into a Royal Naval Officer over the course of just eight weeks,” said Midshipman Jade Widdows, a 27-year-old PE teacher from Portsmouth – and also a semi-professional footballer.

“I can wholeheartedly say that in this time I have evolved as a person and have made friends for life. The course challenged me from start to finish, but I would encourage anyone looking to go down the Reservist officer path to take up the opportunity.”

Able Seaman John Dixon was named best recruit and Able Seaman Megan Phillips received the Endeavour Prize as most-improved recruit.

“I formed some truly lasting friendships with the men and women I trained alongside over the past five weeks,” said 35-year-old John, who is employed by the Department for Work and Pensions.

“It was a complete surprise to receive the award for best recruit and I’m feeling over the moon. I could not have done it without my shipmates’ help and support.

“The greatest highlight of the course was completing the assault course at Raleigh, covered in mud, soaked from head to toe but still smiling. Those memories will stay with me forever.  For anyone thinking of joining, just do it!”

The course challenged me from start to finish, but I would encourage anyone looking to go down the Reservist officer path to take up the opportunity

Midshipman Jade Widdows

Able Seaman Amelia Hughes, 18, who has just finished college and will be embarking on medical training at Sheffield University, echoed his feelings.

“This course has pushed me further than ever before – physically and mentally – and I have achieved what I thought I could not,” she said.

“The biggest challenge for me was the activity on Dartmoor. Picking up my packed Bergen, I thought I could not possibly carry this weight across the Moor. However I did it with the help and support of my shipmates – it was a great sense of achievement. I am very much looking forward to getting stuck into my new reservist career.”

Midshipman Harry Nuttall-Owen won the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association Sword of Honour and Midshipman Louis Curtis was named most-improved cadet.

Sub Lieutenant Alec Richardson received the MacRobert Sword for demonstrating maturity and emotional intelligence which shone through his quiet demeanour to reveal a natural talent for leadership.

And Able Seaman Richard Morris from Portsmouth unit HMS King Alfred was awarded the MacRobert Bosun Call. He used his extensive knowledge and experience to support other members of the team throughout his initial training course and passed out of Raleigh with the highest grades and standards on the course, receiving the Captain’s Prize.

As well as being inspected by Prince Michael, those passing out were addressed by the Commander Maritime Reserves, Commodore Mel Robinson.

“I am so proud of the sailors and officers passing out today. They have pushed themselves to the very edge of their abilities and have successfully completed their initial training courses, meeting the same exacting standards as their Regular counterparts.

“As our newest sailors and officers start their journey as part-time members of the Royal Navy, they will live by and demonstrate the values and standards of the Royal Navy.”

Since its introduction in 2015, the accelerated officer programme has provided the RNR with more than 200 new leaders, while the speeded-up package for ratings has delivered over 30 fresh sailors in its first year.

 

Photo credit to Lieutenant Matt Aylmer and Lieutenant Gregory McFarlane.

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