Ilkeston mechanic turned soldier wins top award

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An Ilkeston man who left his job as a mechanic to join the army has won a top award after finishing his recruit training.

Private Keiron Clarke, 28, has successfully completed the Combat Infantryman’s Course at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire.

His platoon commander,Lieutenant Ben Griffiths, said: “Private Clarke was voted the Soldiers’ Soldier by his fellow recruits, so this is a highly regarded award. He has readily adopted the army’s values and standards and has become an example to the rest of the platoon. Because he’s a bit older than most of his fellow recruits, he has become something of a father figure to them. This is a well-deserved award. ”

Private Clarke will receive his award at the pass out parade ceremony at the Infantry Training Centre on January 23.

Private Clarke said: “I was a car mechanic for 12 years and I was getting on a bit, being 28, so I thought I had better join the army now or I never would. To be honest, I’d had enough of the nine-to-five routine and I wanted something better for myself and my partner, Zoe, and our three-year-old son Rueben. Zoe and I talked about taking this step a lot and that has been a positive from the start, but my mum has taken a little bit longer to see the positive side – she’s really proud of what I’m doing now, though.

“Winning this award, and finishing a tough course, has given me a real sense of achievement, something I had never experienced in my civilian job.

“When I told Zoe I had won an award she said: ‘Just keep making me proud of you and I’ll be happy.’”

Private Clarke will take some well deserved leave before joining his new unit the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment based in Bulford.