A contract manager from Glendale has been named the fastest man on his selection course for the army reserves.

Mark Pigden, (pictured left) newly appointed manager for Glendale’s arboricultural contract with Harrow Council, completed the best effort 1.5 mile run - part of the physical fitness element of the selection course - forty seconds faster than the required time.

He also successfully completed a technical selection test, the army’s BARB (British Army Recruit Battery) test and underwent a thorough medical examination in order to become a member of the army reserves engineering unit with the 131 Commando Squadron Royal Engineers. Mark’s role in the army reserves is to provide support to the Royal Marines in fields such as bridge laying and demolitions.

He says: “After leaving school I was undecided on what direction I wanted to take with my life and the army was a big draw for me. When I discovered arboriculture, I moved down that career path and worked hard at it, but the army still remained an unfulfilled dream. I felt recently that now was the time to achieve that dream.

“I went into the initial selection confident about my ability to pass the required tests, however the challenge I faced was entering a new world and approaching situations in the way required to pass certain aspects of the selection process. Finishing the 1.5 mile run in 8.50 was somewhat of a personal achievement for me, as it marks a new personal best.”

To serve with the unit Mark needs to pass a commando course in order to earn the coveted Green Beret. But first he must pass his phase 1 training which he started in November.

Mark continues: “So far I’ve completed my phase 1A training and a seven-day crash course in basic soldiering. Many aspects of this were completely new to me and the majority of the recruits, so it was a steep learning curve. The working hours of 0630 to 2100 gave little time for rest but overall it was a good challenge. One daunting aspect was entering the week with an injury to my foot, however this proved to be a minor issue as I still managed to improve my 1.5 mile run time to 8.40, and passed all of the tests required. 

“I will complete the rest of my phase 1 training in January. Once I have passed this I will be required to attend further training sessions during my spare time to further develop my skills. My current skillset is already applicable to the unit but I hope to gain new skills during the training process that will benefit both my civilian life and my career with the reserves.”

The army reserves allows candidates to work full-time in their civilian careers whilst serving the armed forces. They receive the same training as active-duty soldiers, including Basic Combat Training (BCT) and Advanced Individual Training (AIT).