A teacher swapped the classroom for commando training after making the grade as a Royal Marine.
PE teacher Ross Cooney has completed one of the toughest Armed Forces training courses in the world to become a Royal Marine Commando - while continuing his day job in the classroom.
Ross, 32, from Mexborough, was formerly in charge of physical education at Hill House School in Doncaster before more recently joining Aegir Community School in Gainsborough.
But during the last 18 months he has given up many weekends and two evenings a week to train as a reservist.
Donning the prestigious Green Beret on completion of the fearsome course, Ross has become one of only 600 people in the UK who combine their civilian day jobs with serving part time as a fully-trained commando.
Ross, who lives with wife Sarah, is no stranger to physical fitness, having been a world-class tri-athlete, but managing the demands of the commando course and his day job was the straw that nearly broke the camel’s back.
He said: “I’d be leaving school on Friday afternoon and heading straight off to training camp for the weekend. It’s an intense few days. You’d be up most of Friday night, then on exercise throughout Saturday, with maybe two to three hours sleep that night if you’re lucky, and then continue through to Sunday until the afternoon when you travel back home – just in time to get ready for the working week first thing Monday morning. I got to a point after a year when I thought I just couldn’t do it anymore.
“But the lads at the detachment were brilliant. They’ve all gone through it and knew how I was feeling. They helped me through those hard times and I’m so glad I found that extra resolve.”
Royal Marine Reserves have to complete the same tests as the full time Marine recruits, starting with basic soldiering and weapon training, recruits are then taught to live and fight in a variety of outdoor environments.
The commando course itself consists of a week-long military exercise on the bleak terrain of Dartmoor, during which they carry out reconnaissance work, patrols and simulated attacks onto enemy positions.
On successful completion of the exercise they begin the commando tests which consist of a punishing endurance course; a nine-mile speed march within 90 minutes; the famous ‘Tarzan’ assault course which is conducted at heights of up to 30 feet and finally a 30 mile run and march over inhospitable countryside in under eight hours – at the successful completion of which they are awarded the Green Beret and the ‘Commando Dagger’. All of the tests are completed carrying the minimum of 30 pounds of military kit and equipment.
On passing, he said: “It was such a relief – all the tests and exercises were finally over and we’d made it.”