Former DACA student receives prestigious British Army award

A FORMER Darwen student has received a prestigious British Army award after finishing top in his recruit training.

Private Daniel Hayden, 18, has won the Parachute Regiment Best Recruit Award after successfully completing the combat infantryman’s course in Catterick, North Yorkshire.

The award is judged by the platoon’s training team and goes to the trainee who has put in the best overall performance, displaying an aptitude for being an infantryman and being fit, tough and resilient during the 28-week course.

The former Darwen Aldridge Community Academy student said he has always had an ambition to become a paratrooper and is delighted to have received the accolade.

He said: “I have wanted to be a paratrooper since I was about 14. The Parachute Regiment is an elite unit and I think their standards are the highest in the British Army.

“It is belonging to an elite unit that appeals to me. Even though I knew the course at Catterick was going to be hard, there were times when it was tougher than I imagined.

“You have to adapt; before you know it the 28 weeks have passed and you are on the passing out parade.

“Receiving this award is quite an honour for me, my parents don’t know I’ve won it and I’m sure they will be proud of me when they see me collect it on the parade.”

Only one recruit per platoon receives the award, so there are only five or six awards given out each year.

On the course, recruits learn how to handle various weapons such as the SA80 rifle and the light machine gun as well as how to use night viewing devices.

Recruits also learn about how to work and survive in the field, military procedures and movements such as marching, teamwork and take on tough fitness training.

Private Hayden will receive his award at the pass-out parade ceremony at the Infantry Training Centre on Friday.

His platoon commander, Captain Tom Hand, said: “Private Hayden has won the Best Recruit award. “He is a mentally and physically robust character who has excelled on what is a gruelling six-month course.

“He has the confidence and nous of a much more experienced soldier.”

Private Haydn will complete two weeks driver training before taking some leave and joining new unit the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment in Colchester.