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JUNIOR firefighters are celebrating after completing a rigorous training programme.

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) welcomed 44 cadets to join the Young Firefighters scheme by putting children through their paces in a 36-week course.

Whitley Wood and Pangbourne Fire Stations invited the recruits to take part in a range of practical and theoretical activities, including breathing apparatus sessions and hose drills.

The course was carried out by instructors for RBFRS and gives the children valuable skills to increase confidence and teamwork.

Tilly Pink-Costello, a young firefighter cadet from Maidenhead said: “All the instructors are really supportive and kind.

“I have learnt so many new skills and made new friends. I would recommend it to anyone.

“It has inspired me to want to become a firefighter when I am older.”

At the end of the course the cadets took part in a celebratory passing out parade at Whitley Wood Training Centre, where they demonstrated some of the skills they had learned in front of their proud parents.

Councillor Christine Bateson, lead Member for Community Safety on Windsor and Maidenhead council, added: “The scheme is designed to help raise the aspirations, attainment and pathways to employability for young people.

“It has already reached almost 500 young people and we hope to reach more across Royal Berkshire in the years ahead.”

The next programme starts in September and recruitment is already underway for programmes at Whitley Wood and Newbury Fire Stations.

The Whitley Wood unit meets on Wednesday evenings from 7-9pm during term time and on Thursday evenings from 7-9pm in Newbury.