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Royal Marines teach schoolchildren commando spirit in community event

Royal Marines Reserve Merseyside worked with community partners to put on Challenge Merseyside for schoolchildren. Picture: L(Phot) Will Haigh
18 July 2019
Royal Marines taught schoolchildren the commando spirit and showed what they could do in the future at community event Challenge Merseyside.

More than 70 students were invited to Aintree Racecourse by Royal Marines Reserve Merseyside to learn about the consequences of gang culture and to be inspired to achieve their dreams.

A range of organisations and guests across the area came together for the day, which has been hailed a success.

Royal Marine close-combat instructors spoke to the teenagers about what it takes to be a commando and showed how to defend themselves. Meanwhile, the students also played football with the Liverpool FC Foundation, learnt rugby skills with Sale Sharks Rugby Community Trust and did circuits with Be Military Fit.

They also got a talk from former Royal Marine Andy Grant, a motivational speaker who lost his leg after a tour in Afghanistan, as well as talks from jockey Katie Walsh and Team GB Olympic hockey gold medallist Sam Quek on what it takes to succeed. Merseyside Police also spoke to them about the consequences of knife crime and how to deal with potentially volatile situations.

Joel Wade, 13, was one of the pupils taking part. The Archbishop Beck Catholic School student said: “It has been a really good day, I particularly enjoyed the football. It is a great event to be a part of because most schools don’t get to do these sort of things so it is a privilege to be invited along.

“It has made me realise what opportunities there could be in the future for me and my friends. Most of us might not have considered the Royal Marines as a career but I have come here, listened to them and to Andy Grant and it gives you a different perspective.

“I also felt a sense of pride for the city when you listen to Andy and what he’s managed to achieve.”

It was about broadening these teenagers’ horizons and showing them what opportunities there are.

Lieutenant Colonel Matt Churchward

Challenge Merseyside was organised following the success of Challenge Wandsworth – a similar event held earlier this year.

The idea of the community partnership day was to show the students what is available to them outside of education and for them to socialise with different schools.

Lieutenant Colonel Matt Churchward, Commanding Officer at RMR Merseyside, said: “The event was fantastic and it was great to see all the different organisations coming together to make it happen.

“It was about broadening these teenagers’ horizons and showing them what opportunities there are.”

Royal Marine Captain Ryan Taylor, officer commanding the Commando Recruitment Team, added: “Today was about giving the children the chance to work with ourselves but also other groups in the community and to inspire them.

“We had two of our close-combat instructors teach them self-defence techniques and tactics and also answer questions about being a marine.”

As well as the physical activities, the day was about showing the pupils what can be achieved if they work hard.

Veteran Andy Grant briefed the youngsters about the challenges he had to overcome when his leg was amputated and the importance of working as a team. Meanwhile Sam Quek spoke about her own challenges and setbacks that led to her being an Olympic gold medallist.

Both are from Merseyside and said it was great to show the pupils that anyone, of any background, can achieve what they have.

Speaking to them, Andy said: “This is a great day for you to see what opportunities are out there for you. Everyone here is helping you and today is about showing the importance of working together.”

Sam added: “Being from the same area as these kids means our message has a hidden meaning. I travel around the country speaking to schools about the knock-backs and injuries I have faced but doing Challenge Merseyside and speaking to pupils in the local area has been great.”

Sam is an ambassador for the Jockey Club North West, who were keen to see the event take part at Aintree Racecourse.

John Baker, the venue’s managing director, said: “We’re overwhelmed with the success of the event, it has been a pleasure to host the first of what we hope will be a number of Challenge Merseyside events at Aintree Racecourse.

“It has been fantastic to be able to collaborate with the Royal Marines, Be Military Fit, Sale Sharks, LFC Foundation and Merseyside Police to put on such a unique and hopefully inspiring day for children in the community.”

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