Dream come true for teenager, 14, who spends day with Royal Marines

Running through the mud, climbing ropes and making lunch from ration packs gave a teenager a small insight into what it is like being a Royal Marine.

Fourteen-year-old Malachi Neat spent the day at the Commando Training Centre (CTC), in Lympstone, Devon, to spend time with the unit.

The youngster, from Coventry, has Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) which affects joints, energy levels and mood, and Uveitis which affects his eyes. He takes daily eye drops, injections and medication to help with the condition.

BBC radio show The C Word, hosted by Letitia George, learnt about his condition when he appeared on the programme in the summer. As a special gift before Christmas they organised a day with the Marines – Malachi’s dream job.

Earlier this month, Letitia surprised Malachi at school and sent him and his mum Emma to CTC.

We were delighted to host Malachi and give some insight into what Royal Marines do

Captain Oliver Mason

He said: “Spending the day with the Marines was something I never thought possible.

“Living with JIA Uveitis is a daily challenge. I have good days and really bad days. A lot of the time it’s all the side effects of the medication that make me so ill.

“I have always tried to maintain a high level of fitness so when I do have bad days it doesn’t set me back too far. Hopefully this helped me when doing the activities.”

Dressed in full Royal Marine gear, and battling against his condition, Malachi completed an assault course which included running across muddy fields, jumping across water, climbing over walls and doing monkey bars.

He also had a go at close combat and then helped make lunch out of ration packs over an open flame.

Malachi added: “To complete the assault course was a huge achievement and spending time talking with the Marines and them being so welcoming made my whole time there so enjoyable.

“Having the dream to become a Marine but then getting the JIA Uveitis diagnosis made me question whether I can actually do it.

“When I was told I was to spend the day as a Marine I was so overwhelmed and shocked, I couldn’t believe it. The moment I put on the uniform I felt like I belonged and it was where I wanted to be. The lads at Lympstone made me feel so welcome.

“When I was doing the various activities they had planned for me, I felt like I was a Marine. I embraced it so much hoping that this taster of Marine life would hopefully one day become a reality.”

Captain Oliver Mason, from CTC, said the Royal Marines had a great day with Malachi teaching him about it takes to be a Commando.

“We were delighted to host Malachi and give some insight into what Royal Marines do,” he said.

“He gave every challenge 100 per cent and really got involved with the team. He seemed to enjoy himself and didn’t let his arthritis get in the way.”