Army day for Pennthorpe pupils

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Pupils defused bombs and cleared a minefield in the woods near their school during a visit by a former Army officer to teach them about teamwork.

The mock exercises involved year 7 and 8 students at Pennthorpe School, Rudgwick, led by Major Justin Featherstone - awarded the Military Cross for his bravery in Iraq. His 18 years in the Army included training Princes William and Harry, along with missions to the Congo, Kosovo and Northern Ireland. He has since led a host of climbing, kayaking and trekking expeditions to remote areas across the globe.

Major Featherstone told a packed school chapel about one trip in which ten disabled youngsters trekked 340 miles through Ecuador for the BBC documentary Across The Andes: Beyond Boundaries. He revealed how a young cerebral palsy sufferer - once told she would never walk - proved the perfect leader by inspiring and encouraging her team-mates plus bringing laughter to their camp. Pupils also enjoyed an exercise in which they walked on a tightrope held by their friends, pictured.

Pennthorpe’s Maths and Science teacher Michelle Catterson said: “One of the main things I gained from Justin was his absolute and unquestionable love of life, how he aimed to wring every last drop of excitement out of every challenge and opportunity that faced him. I was certainly inspired to meet a real-life hero and I’m sure it was an experience our pupils will never forget.”

Contributed by Pennthorpe.