A determined teenager from South Wales who has juggled an intense physical training routine while also caring for his mother is now set to achieve his dream of joining the British Army.

18-year-old Joshua Phillips has lost an impressive 3 ½ stone in just 6 months after spending time at a specialist training college dedicated to helping teens build fitness and life skills.

With strong military roots dating back to his great grandfather, Joshua had always dreamed of joining the Royal Welsh regiment. But at 17 years old, he was nearly 4 stone overweight. He realised that a big change was needed to pass the Army’s tough selection process.

Joshua heard about the Military Preparation College, a network of free-to-attend specialist colleges that help 16-18 year olds build fitness through a unique ‘active learning’ curriculum combining military-style physical training with vocational instruction.

Living with his mother Emma in the rural Welsh village of Llandybie, the nearest College branch to Joshua was in Bridgend – nearly 40 miles away. Unable to drive, he travelled to the College by himself every day, a two-hour journey that required two trains and a bus.

In order to get to the College on time, Joshua would leave the house at 7am daily. Returning at 7pm, he would then take over the primary care of his mother who suffers from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a condition which affects the nerves in her legs and means that she is confined to a wheelchair. Joshua has been Emma’s carer for 8 years, a role he shares with his stepfather Paul.

“We all worked together and carried each other”

When Joshua first joined the Military Preparation College, his fitness levels were very low but the College’s focused approach soon helped him to build up his fitness and self-confidence.

“It’s really different from normal college life as we’re not stuck in classrooms but spend hours outside each and every day,” explains Joshua. “It’s really engaging and has helped me to overcome some tough personal battles by really pushing myself.”

Learners from the Bridgend Military Preparation College

Joshua has worked closely alongside the College’s instructors to put together a personalised training and diet plan. Throwing himself into his training, he found that the weight soon started to drop off.

“Physical training has made a huge difference to my life and wellbeing. There are a lot of press ups and long runs involved but it’s so much more than just that,” he explains. “My favourite sessions are the obstacle course exercises. These find us all working together and carrying each other.”

“I’m now looking forward to starting my dream career”

Having now completed his preparation training, Joshua is set to begin his military career for the Royal Welsh at Catterick Garrison in Yorkshire.

“Before I began the course, no one I knew believed I would ever be able to join the Army,” adds Joshua. “If it wasn’t for my time at the College, I would never have passed Army selection. I’m now looking forward to starting my dream career.”

Steve Tallis is the lead instructor at the Military Preparation College in Bridgend. He comments:

“We’re really proud of Joshua and how far he has come. To lose such a huge amount of weight in a very short space of time is an incredible achievement. He is a very inspiring young man who has overcome some difficult challenges to achieve his dream and is living proof that with the right attitude and support, everyone can achieve their goals in life.”

The Military Preparation College, which is Government funded and run by ex-military personnel, aims to help teenagers from all backgrounds realise their full potential. The organisation operates on a ‘roll on, roll off’ basis and applications are welcome for its nationwide network of Colleges.

Highlight’s work for the Motivational Preparation College for Training (MPCT) has been shortlisted for a national CIPR Excellence Award for Best Education Communications Campaign – here’s why

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