Stepping Up

A graduation parade for Junior Soldiers takes place on August 15, 2013 in Harrogate, England. The Army Foundation College in Harrogate opened in 1998 and provides training for soldiers destined for all the Army’s career paths and provides training for 1344 junior soldiers. During their time at the college the students are taught basic military skills and can achieve vocational qualifications, City and Guilds apprenticeships and take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. The graduation parade is the largest in Europe and is only exceeded in size by the Trooping of the Colour in London. Following the parade the students will go on to further specialist training before finally joining their units and moving forward with their military careers.

The pictures below show Junior Soldiers from 19 Platoon, Burma Company making final preparations before forming up and taking part in the parade with the other soldiers who are graduating from the college. They collect their weapons from the armoury first thing in the morning and return to their barrack block to get changed into their uniforms and receive a final briefing and words of encouragement from their Platoon Commander before marching onto the parade ground in front of parents and family members.

AFC Harrogate graduation

Junior Soldiers from 19 Platoon, Burma Company collect their weapons from the Armoury at the start of Graduation Day

AFC Harrogate graduation

Junior Soldiers from 19 Platoon, Burma Company collect their weapons from the Armoury at the start of Graduation Day

AFC Harrogate graduation

Junior Soldiers from 19 Platoon, Burma Company collect their weapons from the Armoury at the start of Graduation Day

AFC Harrogate graduation

The Junior Soldiers wait for a briefing and ID Card check in the corridor of their barrack blockĀ 

AFC Harrogate graduation

A No2 Dress uniform hangs on a locker

AFC Harrogate graduation

Highly polished or ‘bulled’ shoes and peaked cap ready to wear – The tape on the cap prevents dust gathering on the top

AFC Harrogate graduation

A final polish

AFC Harrogate graduation

Some final thoughts before the parade.

AFC Harrogate graduation

Rifles and bayonets are laid on the floor as the Junior Soldiers are putting on their uniforms

AFC Harrogate graduation

One of the female soldiers has her hair net applied

AFC Harrogate graduation

Standing in front of the mirror ties and uniforms are adjusted. Unfolded metal paperclips are used to fix the bottom of the tie in place to keep it looking smart

AFC Harrogate graduation

Corporal Andrew Little (wearing camouflage) is a Section Commander with the training staff. Here he makes adjustments to the jacket of one of the soldiers

AFC Harrogate graduation

Final preparations as the Junior Soldiers get ready for the graduation parade

AFC Harrogate graduation

A member of the training staff checks the cap of one of the young soldiers

AFC Harrogate graduation

Getting ready for the graduation parade

AFC Harrogate graduation

Getting ready for the graduation parade

AFC Harrogate graduation

Shoes polished and ready for the parade to start

AFC Harrogate graduation

White belts are fastened and adjusted

AFC Harrogate graduation

Waiting for the parade

AFC Harrogate graduation

Number 2 dress jackets are fastened

AFC Harrogate graduation

Getting ready

AFC Harrogate graduation

Junior Soldier Natalie Heart, 17, from Blackpool straightens her cap before the parade

AFC Harrogate graduation

Junior Soldier Natalie Heart, 17, from Blackpool

AFC Harrogate graduation

Junior Soldiers wait in the corridor for one final check of their kit before marching onto the parade ground

AFC Harrogate graduation

A nervous wait for many of the Junior Soldiers just prior to the parade. All were equally anxious, scared and excited to be graduating

AFC Harrogate graduation

A final check in the mirror before the start

AFC Harrogate graduation

The Platoon Commander, Captain Peter Daniel shares a final word with Junior Soldiers from his Platoon before the Graduation parade

AFC Harrogate graduation

Junior Soldiers listen to a final brief from their Platoon commander

AFC Harrogate graduation

Junior Soldiers listen to a final brief from their Platoon commander

AFC Harrogate graduation

The Platoon noticeboard outlines the day’s activities

AFC Harrogate graduation

Leaving the accommodation block to form up ready for the parade

AFC Harrogate graduation

A rifle with bayonet attached is laid on the floor as Junior soldiers make one final check of their uniforms before marching on the parade square

AFC Harrogate graduation

Hundreds of parents, friends and family members try and spot their son or daughter as the Junior Soldiers march onto the parade square

AFC Harrogate graduation

Trying to spot their relative amongst the 700 hundred Junior soldiers on parade

AFC Harrogate graduation

All 700 hundred Junior Soldiers from Cambria, Peninsula and Burma Companies are formed up on parade

AFC Harrogate graduation

Waiting for the inspection

AFC Harrogate graduation

Major General Tim Radford DSO OBE (L) shares a joke as he inspects the Junior Soldiers on parade

AFC Harrogate graduation

A Junior Soldier from the Royal Engineers waits to be inspected on the parade ground during the graduation

AFC Harrogate graduation

The parade march past the inspecting officer on the saluting dais

AFC Harrogate graduation

The parade carry out an ‘eye’s right’ as they march past the saluting dais

AFC Harrogate graduation

Junior Soldiers march around the square during the parade

AFC Harrogate graduation

Formed up and waiting for the inspection

AFC Harrogate graduation

Junior Soldiers from 18 Platoon, Peninsula Company from ‘Intake 29’ and winners of the Mallon Trophy – awarded to the best Platoon of that intake.

AFC Harrogate graduation

A platoon marches past

AFC Harrogate graduation

Waiting to be inspected by the inspecting officer Major General Tim Radford DSO OBE

AFC Harrogate graduation

Following the parade the Junior Soldiers are reunited with parents

AFC Harrogate graduation

Following the parade a Junior Soldier meets up with his sister

AFC Harrogate graduation

Charlie McKenna, 9, from Chorley wears his big brothers cap after the graduation parade

Pictures remain copyright Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

www.ianforsythphotography.co.uk