Army manoeuvres!

Heather Gamble, Claire Mark, Melissa Molloy, Emma Doherty and Jane Neill.
Heather Gamble, Claire Mark, Melissa Molloy, Emma Doherty and Jane Neill.

Teachers and staff from Coleraine College have been enhancing their team and leadership skills with some special tuition laid on by Army Reserves from 152 (North Irish) Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps based in Coleraine.

Leaving the classroom – and their personal comfort zones – far behind, the school team headed for Magilligan Training Centre recently to undertake an impressive range of military training exercises which included everything from shooting, command tasks and rock climbing to blindfold driving!

Ahead on points: Head of Maths, Olga Lowry tries body armour and helmet for size and style!

Ahead on points: Head of Maths, Olga Lowry tries body armour and helmet for size and style!

The unusual training session put the school mission statement, ‘Together we will succeed’, to the test but, according to principal Richard Marsh, his staff were more than up for the challenge.

He says: “This was team building with a difference and everyone really threw themselves into the activities. We had a fantastic time and we all enjoyed working together to overcome the challenges of the day: a great example of community outreach and a fun day with a sound sense of purpose.

“As a new principal at Coleraine College I am really keen to keep staff and pupils energised and excited about opportunities to enhance existing skills and learn new ones. We may never be required to tackle a climbing tower as part of the school curriculum, but the sense of accomplishment from the exercise was a great reminder of what you can do with determination, training … and a little help from your friends.

“It is also important that we gain as much information and insight as possible about potential careers for our students. The Reserve Forces clearly offer a vast range of openings, but we also heard about valuable opportunities which exist for pupils to join the Cadet movements.”

It's a far cry from the classroom, but the only way is up for teacher Stella Jo Skobel who managed to share a laugh as she tackled the daunting climbing wall.

It's a far cry from the classroom, but the only way is up for teacher Stella Jo Skobel who managed to share a laugh as she tackled the daunting climbing wall.

The day also provided an important opportunity for the Army Reserves who serve in Coleraine to showcase their roles and skills and to share some information about life in the Army Reserve.

Lieutenant Colonel Paul Smith, Commanding Officer of 152 (North Irish) Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps, said: “Our ‘home’ at Artillery Road in Coleraine - and, indeed, our bases at Caw Camp in Londonderry and at Palace Barracks in Holywood – are well known to locals, but we recognise that people may not be entirely familiar with our new role as an integral part of the Army’s only fuel regiment.”

Right now Reserve soldiers from the North Coast and Triangle areas are preparing for a major exercise in Denmark where they will take on the simulated challenge of building and operating a Bulk Fuel Installation as they train in the role of petroleum operations in a conventional warfare scenario. The unit is also starting preparations to mobilise Reservists to support the UN on a six month peacekeeping tour of Cyprus.

Lieutenant Colonel Smith says, “It’s an exciting time for us and we’re delighted to have the opportunity to share knowledge and enthusiasm with our neighbours from Coleraine College. This is a great platform for us to demonstrate to influential gate-keepers within our community the transferrable skills which Army Reserve service offers, from leadership to team building … and it’s also an opportunity for us to flag up the fantastic part time careers which we have right here in this area.

“The staff and teachers from Coleraine College probably left Magilligan with a few aches and pains from their exertions, but I hope they also took back to the school an increased understanding of our work.

From our perspective we were mightily impressed with their determination and good humour and we enjoyed hosting them as ‘temporary recruits’!”