More than a hundred men and woman from across Northern Ireland have signed up for a new scheme which promises to transform inexperienced civilians into Territorial Army soldiers within weeks.
Amongst that initial intake are three local people — Gillian Fisher and Emma Butler from Bangor and Noel Ross from Holywood.
Exercise Shamrock Challenge, which will take place at the Ballykinler Training Centre near Downpatrick from July 27 to August 31, offers a new approach to TA basic training.
The new intensive residential course offers the chance to compress basic training into a single month. That commitment will be rewarded with a pay check of £1,300. Those who complete the course successfully will immediately head out to serve with their chosen TA unit which could be anywhere in the Province.
The North Down trio were in Ballykinler this week to get an idea of what might lie in store as they tackle fast track induction.
Emma, who is a full time student at university in England, said: “This really suits me for it gives me something to get stuck into during the summer.”
Noel is equally up for the challenge. He said: “Like everyone else I’ve met here I’ve been trying to get my fitness up to a decent level but, even so, I still think we’re going to find some tough challenges ahead.
At 42, Gillian is the oldest of the three North Down candidates. She said: “I’ve thought about a TA career on and off for years and I reckon it’s now or never. I am already reasonably fit and I’m prepared to work hard to get still fitter if need be.”