A newly-named troop has been paraded at Army Training Centre (ATC) Pirbright, rebranded to honour an Army veteran with a unique story.
Alhaji Troop, formerly 2 Army Training Regiment, has taken inspiration from Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Sulle Alhaji, who left the service in 2019 after deployment around the world.
Raised on a council estate in Newcastle, Mr Alhaji joined the Cadets at the age of 13, moving on to the Royal Marines Reserves at 16 before entering the Parachute Regiment in 1978 and serving in the Falklands War.
Towards the end of his career, he set up the Army Youth Engagement Team, inspiring young people with his story.
Being introduced to Alhaji Troop at ATC Pirbright, which is currently being modernised, Mr Alhaji said: "I feel like I’ve woken up in a different dimension, it’s so bizarre but an incredible honour.
"I’d love to tell them my story so they know where they can go from here, because some of them will probably struggle through life, but if you have that belief in yourself, just keep pushing on, you’ll get to where you want to be.
"Looking at them, it was great, they’re such a diverse crowd – they’re going to do well."
For three decades, recruits have undergone basic training at Pirbright, but change is underway, which the centre hopes will attract recruits from a variety of backgrounds.
The centre will become the British Army Soldier Academy, a national school of excellence for soldiers who aren’t joining the infantry, with more troops to be renamed in the coming months.
Mr Alhaji hopes his success story within the military will resonate with some of the personnel on parade.
"My life mirrors theirs to a certain degree," he said, explaining how he overcame a life of "trouble" and gained a lasting sense of confidence through his military endeavours.
"I guess they kind of trust me," he added – a sentiment echoed by Major Dean Owens, Officer Commanding, CAEN Squadron.
Major Owens said: "Reading the biography of a young man leaving Newcastle and achieving what he’s achieved will let some soldiers think, 'Well, I’m from Newcastle, I understand the area he’s from, can I do that? I think I can.'"