Oxford URNU observe Prime Minister's Questions

When the Coxswain of the Oxford University Royal Naval Unit first spoke to Officer Cadet Ben Fernando about his studies, he didn't expect him to talk about Parliament and future aspirations of becoming a Minister.

Oxford URNU observe Prime Minister's QuestionsHowever, the more the talk veered towards the Houses of Parliament the more CPO Maskell was intrigued. He was then offered the chance to go to Prime Minister's Questions at the House of Commons by Officer Cadet Fernando.

It was a simple plan, firstly asking the local MP to attend as their representative and once authorised collecting the tickets to enter. The opportunity was too good to refuse.

On a very chilly, windy and white morning (it happened to be the worst day of the snow in London!), CPO Maskell ventured up to London to meet OCdt Fernando at the House of Commons. Searched on entry into Parliament they took the long walk through the main hall passing ministers and tourists alike.

Once at the doors to the House of Commons they were lead upstairs to the viewing gallery above the politicians, more searches were conducted and they were led to their seats. Within minutes the Prime Minister came out and was presented with ministerial statements and varying questions from representatives of varying boroughs.

It was a really good few hours and I was delighted when the Chief took such an interest in all areas I showed him

Officer Cadet Ben Fernando, Oxford UNRU

OCdt Fernando said, “It was a really good few hours and I was delighted when the Chief took such an interest in all areas I showed him.”

CPO Maskell said, "This is a unique experience that is well worth attending at least once. It gave me a new perspective of the environment of the politicians. I did get some strange looks as I walked through the main hall in my No1 uniform though!.”

After a brief tour of Parliament and a drink in one of the many cafes in Westminster, we walked out into a winter wonderland and an anchor faced stroll to see Nelson's column and the ships of the line down Pall Mall.

Oxford is one of 15 URNUs located across the UK offering opportunities to 750 undergraduates from the country's leading universities.

The URNU's mission is: ‘To develop an understanding of the Naval Service in undergraduates, so that those who go into civilian employment are positive advocates thereof and to facilitate a Naval Career for those who choose one.’

The URNU is a chance to experience military life without commitment and gain new skills applicable to all walks of life.