The 2018 Junior Leaders Field Gun Grand Final was the conclusive run of the season. It was held on Friday 6th July 2018 at HMS Collingwood in Hampshire. Hundreds of people gathered to watch HMS Neptune run home with the winning time of 1:21.35 whilst the Crew from UTC Plymouth very proudly ran a 1:33.56, with an unfortunate three second penalty that cost them dearly.

This is the second year running that UTC Plymouth have completed this prestigious event at the Grand Final level and from here, it can only get better. The crew, consisting of both male & female engineering students from the college between the ages of 16-19 ran out, back and home with no penalties for the first few runs and their times were equal to or better than many of the crews taking part. It was a very proud moment indeed to see their Number 1 Trainer, Royal Navy Warrant Officer Andy Welch (a hardened field gunner himself) march with the crew that he had nurtured and shaped with his fellow field gunners, Singe Daley, Buck Taylor, Austin Hughes and Dave Gregory.

Building on The Royal Navy’s core values; Courage, Discipline, Respect & Integrity the teams train hard Monday through Thursday and compete in a 3 heat competition starting Thursday afternoon and running to the close of play on Friday. 

“On Friday we were extremely impressed by all of the students involved in the event.  They all showed commitment, courage, discipline, determination, a trust in each other, and real grit, especially when overcoming the various injuries incurred.  The fact that they delivered clean runs against well-rehearsed military opposition, and after only 4 days intensive training was impressive.  To then compete in the Grand Final was incredible and they proudly represented the college and were ambassadors for the City.  Each and every one of them should be extremely proud of their achievement and they were all winners regardless of the eventual outcome”.

The Junior Leaders Challenge is the only competition open specifically for new recruits and youths, offering them a chance to work as a team and challenge themselves in a unique setting.

The origins of Royal Navy Field Gun lay in 1899, in the Second Boer War, and in particular the epic 119-day Siege of Ladysmith.  As the British Army was besieged by Boer fighters in the garrison town of Ladysmith, Natal, the Royal Navy landed guns from HM Ships Terrible and Powerful to help in the relief of the siege.  Special carriages and mountings for these guns had been improvised by Percy Scott, before the Naval Brigade manhandled six field guns each weighing nearly half a metric tonne over rough terrain to assist their opposite numbers of the British Army.

Junior Leaders Field Gun has been specially adapted to be more inclusive to both military and non-military groups with little or no field gun experience. The groups arrived at HMS Collingwood on Monday and become fully fledged Field Gunners by the end of the week.

The Junior Leaders Field Gun Competition is now a stalwart of the UTC Plymouth Calendar and plans are already being made in terms of training for next years event!