The wet wilderness of the Bruneian jungle is a far cry from the luxurious surroundings of Yorkshire’s Ampleforth College yet the school's cadets have taken to it like ducks to water.
Former Second-In-Command with Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) Major Miles Blackford is now Contingent Commander at Ampleforth College Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and it is through his association with the Gurkhas that the regular Summer Camp occurs.
“We follow what’s called the Army Proficiency Certificate & Ampleforth has a really rich military history, we even have Michael Allmand, who is one of our Gurkha Victoria Cross recipients; was an old Amplefordian as well.”
Thankfully only one cadet fell out during their first night in the jungle sleeping in hammocks. The next morning the cadets sang Happy Birthday to staff member Sandra before going on to undertake jungle navigation skills.
Chris Kane had been inspired by the Gurkhas leading the different activities.
“They’re really great soldiers, very professional. They know lots about the jungle.
"Throughout our time they’ve been telling us about different plants, different animals, what you can and can’t eat; loads and loads of information.”
B Company 2nd Battalion the Royal Gurkha Rifles (2RGR) hosted the cadets giving them the opportunity to learn survival skills in the jungle, section camp attacks, live firing packages and ‘what’s life like’ lessons in the Battalion itself.
Yet as Major Blackford explained, there is more to being a cadet than being part of the military.
“It’s more about developing them as individuals so learning about their self-reliance, their confidence to develop in all of those skills so that they become the best person that they can possibly be.”
It is home from home for Major Blackford as he first arrived in Brunei in 1976 when his father served with the Gurkhas before he himself joined the Battalion.
“I love it out here, love coming back to the jungle, love seeing old friends and of course working with the Gurkhas who I’ve had associations with my whole life.”