Coldstream Guardsman Toby Boivin, aged 22, has come a long way from the boy who admits he ‘switched off’ in the last two years at school in Leicester.

Toby said: “I was in with the wrong crowd and more interested in getting into mischief than GCSEs. After poor results in my mocks, I realised my options were limited but thought I would try the armed forces and visited the army recruiting office.

“I left it too late to turn my GCSE results around and I only passed in food tech. I went for the army assessment and whilst I was on holiday, I got notification that I would commence my training in 10 weeks’ time.

“I remember thinking I have those ten weeks to cram in everything I wanted to do before I went to Harrogate for my Phase 1 army training. I passed the initial course and enrolled on a level 2 apprenticeship in weapons systems and ammunition. My apprenticeship was my job, and I was loving every minute of it. The work was varied and hands-on which suited me perfectly.

“I passed out at Harrogate after nine months and we got ‘Best Platoon’. During this time my attitude changed, I was in an adult environment, and I really grew up.”

Toby then went to complete his infantry training at ITC Catterick. Whilst there he also re-took and passed the GCSEs he had failed at school. He excelled again in the training finishing second best in his platoon winning a coveted ‘Soldier Soldier’ award presented by a high-ranking officer.

“Toby said: “It was great for my parents to come to see me pass out at Catterick and see that I had finally sorted myself out.

“I was then posted to join the Coldstream Guards in London and spent my 18th birthday guarding Buckingham Palace. Then the pandemic hit, and I was deployed to Manchester to help with Covid testing.

“It wasn’t what I had expected but looking back it was great experience and it felt good to be part of the effort to tackle a national emergency.”

From there Toby went back to London and undertook guarding duties. He then spent three months in the Falkland Islands and then went on to learn pre-deployment training, learning how to teach other armies.

“Toby said, my training is constant, and I have recently passed courses in radio communication and health and safety on firing ranges.

“I have also been involved in big national events such as the Trooping of the Colour, the Queen’s funeral, the Coronation and the state visit of Donald Trump.

“I am involved with engagement work with school children which I love. Its not long ago that I was in their situation, and I have a real message to them that if they aim high, they can achieve a lot.

“The army and my apprenticeship have given me so much both in terms of my career and my personal development. I have friends from school who are now in prison, and I know that could have been me if I hadn’t made the right decision at 16.

“I have skills that are transferable to the emergency services and other roles as a civilian. Not that I am thinking of leaving the Army anytime soon, but I know that when the time is right, I will be set up for life with everything I have learned.”