The Annington Challenge, the project run for military youngsters in partnership with the Outward Bound Trust, was the highlight of last summer for 100 military youngsters, including 42 from the army.

The initiative provides UK-based military youngsters aged 10-19 with an opportunity to experience an Outward Bound course and is aimed at those who would benefit from an experience proven to improve self-confidence, team working skills and resilience – all whilst having loads of fun!

Annington funds up to 90 per cent of the cost and last year’s group chose between four courses at centres in Aberdovey in mid-Wales, Ullswater in Cumbria and Loch Eil in Scotland.


The youngsters enjoyed lots of outdoor activities, including sailing, abseiling and rock climbing as well as wild camping, canoeing and gorge walking.

All aspects of the courses were overseen by Outward Bound’s team of qualified outdoor instructors – many of whom have worked with previous Annington Challenge participants.

They encouraged the young people as they tackled activities designed to take them outside their comfort zones.

One participant was 10-year-old Archie Sherwin, whose father is a lance corporal in the Grenadier Guards.

Archie’s mum Hannah had been brought up enjoying outdoor pursuits and was keen for Archie to apply, knowing how beneficial it could be. She also wanted Archie to enjoy something just for him.

“Unfortunately, Archie has had to take a bit of a back seat as our youngest son Charlie was ill for the first three years of his life,” she explained. “When Charlie was transferred to Portsmouth Hospital, we had to leave Archie with his grandmother and that was tough.”


Archie has moved several times during his school career and told us that he really wanted to tackle the Annington Challenge because he thought it would help build on his confidence when meeting new people as well as improve his communication skills.

He says: “I was nervous about going as I didn’t know anyone but at the bus station in Birmingham, I met Tommy and now he’s my best friend!

“The coach journey was the worst part – it took ages! The best bits were the Jog and Dip and the abseiling – it was awesome!

“One night we camped out on the mountain, and we got to choose whether we wanted to stay in the cabin or put up a tent. Me, Tommy and Harry chose to sleep in the tent and although it was raining and my hat got wet, it was great fun!”

What would Archie say to anyone considering applying for a place in 2024? “Try it! It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I was sad to go home.”

Hannah adds: “We’ve seen a real change in Archie – he’s much more confident. He got off the bus, told us he’d missed us – and then said that he wants to tackle the 19-day course when he’s older!”

Lt Col Fergus Sullivan, the parent of another participant, said: “One of my children took part and had a fantastic time. She did an overnight expedition, leapt into lakes and built rafts.

“When she came home she was on a high and felt a huge sense of achievement. That feeling lasted all summer long and I believe that the memories and the friends that she made will last a lot longer.”

To register for the 2024 Annington Challenge, visit

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