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Joining Territorial Army in Norwich helped turn teenager's life around

PUBLISHED: 12:54 29 August 2011

Territorial Army soldiers Gareth Rundle and Like Wheeler.
Photo by Simon Finlay

Territorial Army soldiers Gareth Rundle and Like Wheeler. Photo by Simon Finlay

Archant © 2011 01603 772434

A former City College Norwich student with "a reckless past" has told how he turned his life around thanks to the Territorial Army.

The British forces are calling on the people of Norwich to consider becoming part-time soldiers with the TA.

The call comes as part of a recruitment drive to recruit thousands of new part-time soldiers. The TA currently has around 20,000 soldiers and is looking to increase this number to 30,000.

The recruitment drive started in the Army Careers office in Magdalen Street on August 22 and will continue through until September 18.

Army careers adviser Major Mike Robinson said: “Many people forget that there’s the TA, so we are looking to raise awareness.

“People in the TA come from such a wide range of jobs. We want to attract the right type of people, that is what’s important for us.”

Air trooper Luke Wheeler joined the TA in September last year.

The 21-year-old said: “My reckless past made me join. I messed up my GCSEs and trained to be a carpenter at City College Norwich but I failed my last year and got stuck in a factory job.

“I wrote two cars off and looked at myself and thought two years of my life had gone by and I hadn’t gone anywhere or done anything. I hadn’t achieved anything.

“One of my mates came round after my second car crash and said he was thinking about joining the TA. I was too scared to fully commit to the Army and saw the TA as a back door to Army life.”

Since joining the TA, he has visited Austria and Germany.

“I have done more in that time than I have in however many years before.

“I hope to train as much as possible and hopefully go out on tour. I can’t see myself not in the TA. It instills that drive and want in you. I want to challenge myself.”

Mr Wheeler, from North Walsham, fits in training around his shifts working as a forklift truck driver.

L/Cpl Gareth Rundle works as a part of the ground handling support team at an aerospace engineering centre in Cambridge.

He said: “I started my job at Marshall Air in 2007 and the company have had military ties for 100 years so they are understanding about time off. Since being in the TA I have done two tours of Afghanistan. Being in the TA has helped with my job quite a bit. There’s a sense of discipline. I’m very proud to serve – there’s a sense of worthiness and I feel like I get pride out of what I do. We have to be fully motivated.”

L/Cpl Rundle, 32, is not being deployed to Afghanistan in January as his partner, Kerrie Allgood, is expecting their first child in February.

If you are interested in joining, visit www.tanearyou.org.uk

Have you turned your life around? Email lucy.wright@archant.co.uk.

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