Today (19 May 2019) teenage recruits from the Army Foundation College (AFC) Harrogate paraded through the street after accepting an invitation from the Mayor to exercise their freedom of the town.
Councillor Bernard Bateman MBEHi, Worshipful the Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate. said:
The Army Foundation College is at the very heart of the fabric of our community in the Borough of Harrogate. The training they provide, for the many hundreds of young soldiers that pass through the College each year, is absolutely second-to-none. They provide purpose, inspiration and a phenomenal career opportunity to their junior soldiers.
It therefore gives me great pleasure to allow the college to exercise its Freedom of the Borough to mark this very special relationship. It is a fitting culmination to my year in office to have these exemplars of the British Army parade through the town.
Lt Col R J Hall MBE YORKS, Commanding Officer , Army Foundation College, said:
The College is delighted to be invited to exercise its right to march through the town. The Harrogate community is very special and has always been supportive of the College’s aims. We relish the chance to be able to recognise the town in this way and the pride in which we take in our parade is our way of saying thank you back to the community.
The Army Foundation College remains totally unique. It represents the most comprehensive soldier basic training system in the world and trains 1000 young men and women from civilian to soldier each year. As the recent ‘Raw Recruits’ Ch5 documentary showed, this is an incredible journey of transformation for these young soldiers – particularly for the element of the College that represents some of the UK’s most disadvantaged teenagers. Therefore the pride in which the instructors take in their responsibility for this training is palpable.
Marching in public is a great honour and this will be the first time any of the recruits, known as Junior Soldiers, will have done this. There will be nerves for some as they realise that they now represent something much bigger than themselves – an organisation recognised for its world class standards. But there is great excitement too, and all recognise just how special and important this day is to the College and its rich history.