NEWTON Abbot students got fired up for the Royal Navy Field Gun Challenge.

Youngsters from South Devon University Technical College teamed up with Scarborough UTC students to form the UTC Barbarians, and undertook a week-long Royal Navy bootcamp in preparation for the gun challenge.

The annual contest took place at HMS Collingwood in Fareham, Hampshire, and included teams of 16 to 24-year-olds racing against each other to assemble and manoeuvre a one-ton field gun, used in historical warfare.

The UTC Barbarians finished with their best time of one minute 32 seconds after competing against trainees from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, as well as those from the National Sea Cadets and other UK colleges.

This is the fourth year the Newton Abbot school has entered the intense challenge, which is very similar to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity Gun Challenge, and is run along a course on a flat track with no obstacles.

The team was led by Gun Captain Ash Brimicombe, Vice-Captain Annie Evans and Limber Captain Stan Popham. They all trained hard with a Royal Navy instructor ahead of the challenge, which focuses on teamwork, leadership and discipline.

Ash, 19, a student at South Devon UTC, has applied to join the Royal Navy as a marine engineering officer, submariner. He said he gained an insight into military lifestyle through the challenge.

He added: ‘I came away from the day feeling that it was such an honour to experience this. No one else gets to do or see this. It cemented my decision to join the Royal Navy.

‘My engineering teacher at the UTC, Mr Stephen Green, was a weapons engineer for surface fleet. This, together with his reflections on his Navy life, inspired me to take part in the Junior Leaders Field Gun Challenge and to look at the career pathways in the forces but particularly in the Royal Navy.’

South Devon UTC is one of 11 UTC colleges that are officially affiliated to the Royal Navy. This affiliation helps to shape the curriculum and areas of study, including work experience weeks that offer an insight into military systems and visits from servicemen and women.

Principal Claire Plumb said: ‘We’re incredibly proud of our students who took part in this year’s Junior Field Gun Challenge.

‘Once again, they faced the challenge with great enthusiasm and determination that has really paid off. We encourage our young people to participate in challenges such as this one as we believe they gain important life skills such as teamwork, motivation and drive.’