Public Services students had the chance to get inside the legendary Green Beret mindset on Thursday 15 September when Royal Marines Commandos Stuart Blasby, Joe Arthurs and Joel Oliver visited the college to demonstrate what is needed to be part of one of the world’s elite fighting units.
The three marines, known as ‘Bootnecks’ after the piece of leather traditionally worn on a marine’s collar, put the students through their paces with a hard-hitting presentation in the Adrian Mann Theatre. This was followed by a brutally honest Q&A session, before getting them out on the sports field for a taste of commando training – the longest and toughest initial training of any NATO force.
‘We’ll make them run a mile and a half at marine pace before letting them do the remaining mile and a half at the best pace they can manage,’ said Stuart Blasby with a grin.
‘After that we’ll go straight into some circuit training, obviously at a lower intensity than with commandos, before putting them through some team games to bring out their leadership and decision-making abilities,’ added Joel Oliver.
For the students, speaking directly to members of such an elite unit was an inspiring opportunity.
‘Hearing all of this from the lads themselves, and being able to find out in depth - it’s everything I’ve always dreamed of and I’m starting to think I could do it,’ said Jamie Simper, from Colliers Wood.
‘My girlfriend and I are about to get engaged,’ he added. ‘I know her and my mum would be worried, but I think they’d like being able to tell people I’m a Royal Marine!’
For Matt Pickett, from Worcester Park, the independence and responsibility required of a marine was a surprise.
‘I didn’t realise the level of decision-making involved and that really appeals to me,’ he said.
‘I also like the fact that, as a marine, you’re working with lads you know rather than with strangers from other corps. I think it’s important to have that bond.’
For the marines, visiting Nescot had given them a chance to give youngsters an honest insight into the highs and lows of life under the Green Lid.
‘Its great meeting the youngsters and we are allowed to answer everything they ask honestly,’ said Joe Arthurs, in between fielding questions about how many hopefuls have actually died during the notorious initial training.
‘We’re just here to set straight some of the myths about the elite forces and share our experiences – good and bad. The students might be really keen now but wait until we’ve put them through the physical – they’ll hate us then!’ he said.