A FORMER pupil of Fleet's Calthorpe Park School has been awarded the coveted Green Beret.

Ben Burton, 22, of Church Crookham, has completed 30 weeks of gruelling training to become a Royal Marine.

The Green Beret is the hallmark of commandos and indicates that the wearer has passed a physically demanding test.

To do so they must display unselfishness, cheerfulness under adversity, determination, courage and high professional standards.

Mr Burton (pictured) said: "Commando training is known for its intensity.

"But it's progressive, so people with all standards of fitness can achieve the final goal, to finish training as a Royal Marine commando and to be awarded the Green Beret."

He added: "It has been a fantastic experience and I have made some life-long friends.

"The sense of achievement is immense. I know that many challenges are to come but we are equipped to meet them."

Training for the Royal Marines consists of four tests - firstly a 1.5 mile endurance course, negotiating tunnels and water hazards, followed by a 5.5 mile run back to camp.

Once there participants have to achieve a marksmanship score on the firing range. The run and the shooting have to be completed within 72 minutes.

The "Tarzan" assault course tests the nerve of would-be marines.

It is set among trees, five to ten metres off the ground, with more than a dozen obstacles.

The soldiers then have to climb a 30ft wall, all within a 13-minute time limit.

Next up is the speed march, a nine-mile hike carrying full fighting order, weapon and a 32lb pack on metalled roads — with a 90-minute time limit.

Completing the test is the 30-mile load carry across Dartmoor, carrying full fighting order, weapon and safety stores weighing 40lbs.

They have eight hours to complete the mission.

The tough training course prepares the Royal Marines for operations worldwide.

If you are interested in becoming a Royal Marines commando call 0845 607 5555.