Veterans were quick to praise a construction course at Brinsbury campus as the college formally renewed its commitment to the armed forces on Friday, March 17.
The five-week training in bricklaying, woodwork, plumbing and other construction skills is designed to help former servicemen and women get back into work.
An Armed Forces Covenant was signed between the Army and course partners Chichester College and charity Building Heroes as a promise to support those in and formerly in service and their families.
Construction lecturer Mike Sheldrick started teaching the course last May and is now helping centres across the UK do the same.
He said: “My expectations were it was going to be absolutely fantastic and it’s gone way beyond that.
“It’s not just about giving training to veterans, it’s giving them emotional skills and giving them that confidence to get back into the workplace.
“When they said ‘you’ve changed my life’, I just thought they’d say thank you, I’ll take the training and be a plasterer or something, to actually make such a difference, it’s amazing.”
Signing on behalf of the Army was Lt Col Andy Betts, who commands the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment. Other guests included the Earl of Lytton as Deputy Lieutenant of West Sussex and four current course members.
Matthew Martin, 38, plans to set up his own plumbing and heating business. He said: “I’ve been in the army now for 22 years and it’s been by far the best course I’ve done in that time.
“It’s been fantastic, really really good here with the instruction and just getting the opportunity, I’ve been really lucky.”
Chichester College principal Shelagh Legrave, who herself served in the Army, said she was proud to sign the covenant as part of the college’s existing relationship with the forces.