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Reporter goes from civilian to soldier for feature series

A senior reporter on a weekly Scottish title experienced life on the front line when he trained with the Territorial Army.

Ally McGilvray, reporter on Forth Weekly Press titles the Border Telegraph and Peeblesshire News , wrote a number of features on life in the TA during five weeks which saw him successfully complete his phase one basic training, making the transition from civilian to soldier.

Said Ally: “I started the process in January, having now turned the wrong side of 30. It was a personal ambition of mine which just so happens to have filled a few column inches in the process and, at the same time, raised the profile of the TA locally as well.

“I think each column inch of words we have printed on the subject is the equivalent of the pain of at least 10 press ups I have had to endure along the way.”

Ally joined the TA on exercise at Redford Cavalry Barracks in Edinburgh were he joined a platoon and was put through his paces by regular soldiers.

In reports he wrote about learning how to shoot, map read and gain first aid skills. He also learned  how to strip and clean his weapon, avoid a nuclear, chemical or biological attack, basic first aid and how to make a bomb.

Said Alley: “I had always had an interest in the army since running around Gala Policies playing soldiers before I opted for a desk job.

“Having interviewed some of the brave souls who put their lives on the line for their country, I was keen to find out if I had what it takes to wear the uniform.”

The articles were the latest in a series of ‘have a go’ reports he has penned in the last 10 years which have included training with Highland League football side Wick Academy, at the time one of the worst football clubs in the country