From education to employment

‘Our Girl’ at Catterick Military Preparation College

Debra Bell

A young Durham military student is preparing to follow in the footsteps of tv’s Our Girl and become a frontline army medic at Catterick Military Preparation College @MPCT_HQ 

Seventeen-year-old Debra Bell, from Bowburn, who wanted to join the Army from childhood, originally had her sights set on becoming a system communication engineer. 

But, having witnessed the military’s role throughout the pandemic, she now intends to join the medical corps. 

And, in September, she will embark on a 14-week basic Army training, followed by 22 weeks at the Royal Army Medical School, at DMS Whittington. 

Like Michelle Keegan’s character Georgie Lane in the BBC One show, Debra wants to save lives on the frontline across the world – and she is now in training to ensure she is at peak fitness when the time comes to sign up.

Debra is currently enrolled at Catterick Military Preparation College – one of 35 across England and Wales – where, along with intense physical training, she is developing her leadership skills in the role of College Ambassador. 

Military Preparation Colleges are run by Government-funded training provider MPCT and offer free courses to help 16 to 19-year-olds, of all abilities and from all backgrounds, into a wide range of careers, both within the military and in civilian life. 

These include academic, functional and health and fitness courses along with training in physical fitness, public speaking and communication. 

With no set term times, young people can enrol when they like and leave when they are fully prepared for whatever career they have chosen.                       

And they are unique in that all their instructors are ex-British Armed Forces personnel, who use their military backgrounds to help learners set and reach the targets that will progress them to their chosen careers. 

“This has been the perfect course for me,” said Debra, “because it’s given me the best possible preparation for a military career. 

“I always knew I didn’t want to go to university, get a job, get married and settle down. I want to travel the world and I want to help people – to save their lives if I can – and I can’t wait to join up in the autumn. 

The college is located within the long-established army base at Catterick and North East area manager and former Sandhurst instructor, Lawrence Corbett, said Debra embodies the focussed, results-driven approach instilled by her training team. 

“A can-do attitude is embedded in us, as former military personnel ourselves and in our role training our young learners,” he said. 

“Not all our students progress to military careers by any means, but Miss Bell has had her sights set on the Army for a long time. 

“She knows what she wants and we have helped her get to the point where she can have it. She will be an asset to the armed forces and we are all very proud of her.” 

To find out more about Military Preparation Colleges, prospective learners and parents and guardians can visit  Text MPCT to 88008 or call 0330 111 3939.



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