A Derbyshire teenager who overcame a lack of confidence and a speech impediment has been named as one of the top army cadets in the country.
Cadet regimental sergeant major Laurence Pilkington, aged 18, from Heanor, was one of just 16 in the UK to be nominated for the Champion Cadet prize - the highest award a cadet can receive.
After following in the footsteps of his sister Lydia by joining the ACF aged 13, Cdt RSM Pilkington has risen through the ranks to master cadet status, meaning he’s achieved everything possible as a cadet.
After receiving the award, Laurence joined the other nominees from across the country at a special training camp at Frimley Park in Surrey where each of their skills, drills and leadership were put to the test.
Although he was not named the Champion Cadet, he said he fully enjoyed the process.
Cdt RSM Pilkington, who also plays as a flanker for Derby Rugby Club, said: “It feels absolutely brilliant to be nominated. It’s made my self-confidence go through the roof. I used to be a very, very shy cadet. I used to have a very bad stutter and now I’ve got it under control and being in the cadets has certainly helped all that. The cadet force is like a big family. I would definitely recommend it to everybody.”