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formative years in the service, that for me is a great way to serve the Navy.


What are the greatest challenges you feel you will face at BRNC? BRNC, like for the wider Royal Navy, is all about maintenance of the highest standards because the sea is our permanent classroom and the enemy may also add their own complications! Both demand that we are as ready as possible and that means world-class training. Therefore the job here at BRNC is to mould, train and shape the very best young officers who are imbued with the right professional skills in leadership, ability and empathy for the people they will lead, and that all starts here in Dartmouth. So my greatest challenge is to keep those standards up in the age of austerity where we are seeing lots of pressures to make efficiencies, but I am backed up with a superb mixture of a civilian and military team here in Dartmouth and support of the town, without which I think my job would be impossible.


What is the most rewarding part of your job? Seeing a Passing Out Parade where young officers have successfully completed what is a demanding and tough course. We have taken essentially young civilians from university and school, and after 30 intensive weeks they emerge as courageous young managers and leaders who are ready to go onto further training in areas as diverse as pilots, nuclear engineers, to navigators and logisticians. Seeing the pride in their eyes and also in their friends’ and families’ eyes who are watching, is for me one of the greatest privileges I have here.


How important is the town and the River Dart to the success of the college? The reasons the Royal Navy selected Dartmouth, quite rightly, back in 1875 to be the site for officers’ training has not fundamentally changed at all. The access to the River Dart and the open sea


is absolutely critical to developing young people’s understanding of the maritime environment, and the town itself is a huge support to the college. The combination of those two things will perpetuate the compelling reasons for young officers’ training to be sited close to the sea with access to all we require for an intensive syllabus. Here we have Dartmoor, the river and of course the town. For me it is perfect and I hope to see things remain as they are for another 107 years – at least!


Did you always want to join the Navy? Was it a tradition in your family?


My family have strong links with the military, both the Army and the Navy, so right from an early age I never really had any other thought of another career, apart from joining the Royal Navy. I remember when I was seven years old having a picture on my wall of a warship and from that age I have always known I would end up serving the Navy and my country. And I am jolly glad I did. It’s been a fantastic career and I have had some amazing experiences, interspersed with some pretty scary moments. But in the end the professionalism of the service remains as attractive to me as it did when I first dreamt of putting on my uniform.


How did you feel as a young recruit arriving at the college? I believe every young person who gets off the train at Totnes and boards the Dartmouth bus to join the college feels extremely nervous, excited and full of trepidation about the demands that are going to be placed on them. But very quickly you realise that everyone else around you is feeling exactly the same way and that actually is very effective in starting the process of team building and empathy for your fellows, which is a crucial part of being in the Royal Navy. When you first arrive at the parade ground you cannot underestimate the impact of the college’s physical bulk and majesty. The college oozes power, ethos,


history and heritage – it all seems to hit you square in the face and for the first time you really feel you have actually joined something very special indeed.


What are your memories of training here and of the town? I was here when I was 18 years old in1985 and my memories are of incessant activity from 6 in the morning until 11 at night, of being really tired, pressured at times but also feeling myself grow and mature very quickly as a person, getting very fit and becoming incredibly self-confident. Dartmouth training is brilliant and builds your confidence and leadership skills so very effectively and quickly that you do feel you are changing on a weekly basis for the better. I was never bored and everyone learns to iron a shirt pretty quickly! It prepared me very well for life at sea and set the foundations for my commands of ships and sailors.


How have things changed you joined?


One of the great aspects of BRNC is that so many things do not change from year to year and we should not be embarrassed to say that if it isn’t broken, don’t try and fix it. The college fundamentally has not changed since 1905 when it first opened its doors, particularly in terms of standards and the quality of the training staff, and the feeling of heritage and ethos you get when you walk around its corridors. But clearly the college has modernised over time in terms of the technology, training techniques and equipment we train with. Today’s leadership and management training at BRNC, which is at the heart of what we are trying to do, utilises the most contemporary coaching and mentoring methodologies to make sure the young people here are given the very best start to their careers in the very best learning environment we can. It is a modern college with all that brings, bounded with history and ethos – a powerful and effective mix.


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