Long Bennington friends realise army ambitions forged at The King’s School

Three young men from Long Bennington, all former King's School students, are commissioned on the same day as officers at Sandhurst. From left, Simon Dingsdale (Blues and Royals), David Swarbrick (Parachute Regiment) and Kenji Ara (Rifles)

Three young men from Long Bennington, all former King's School students, are commissioned on the same day as officers at Sandhurst. From left, Simon Dingsdale (Blues and Royals), David Swarbrick (Parachute Regiment) and Kenji Ara (Rifles)

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IT was a proud day for Grantham when the latest group of army officers emerged from Sandhurst Royal Military Academy.

For among the young men out on the parade ground, resplendent in peaked caps and dark blue tunics, were three former King’s School students, David Swarbrick, Simon Dingsdale, and Kenji Ara.

Even more remarkable, the trio are all from Long Bennington, have been friends since school days, and were all members of the school’s Combined Cadet Force.

The three will now join their regiments as Second Lieutenants, Simon to the Blues and Royals, David to the Parachute Regiment and Kenji to the Rifles.

The soldiers followed different paths to Sandhurst and started the one year course separately, but in a remarkable coincidence, all three came together on the same day for the commissioning parade on Friday, April 13.

The ceremony was witnessed by the proud parents of the three young men, Anne and David Swarbrick, Alan and Zsuzsi Dingsdale and Ikunori and Ruth Ara.

David’s mum Anne said: “We are all very proud of them. It was a very emotional day, but lovely, too, with the whole college on parade. Their intake at Sandhurst became known as the sunshine year, and the sun even shone on the parade ground.”

At King’s School, the cadet force gave the three a taste for the discipline, teamwork and sense of adventure in the services, and David went on to join the Territorial Army.

After going to university and taking time out to travel, David, 27, worked in a the finance department for a big national company, but he also served in Afghanistan with 2 Para in 2008.

His mum said: “I think we always knew David would make his career in the army, but by going to Afghanistan he was able to find out what the commitment meant and what it would mean for his family.

Simon, also 27, was head boy at King’s and worked in the City after university.

Kenji, 23, went to Sandhurst after university.

Anne said the three friends had a lot in common.

She said: “They are all fine young men who want to put something back. They appreciate that they had a good education at King’s and at university and are motivated by a wish to serve, not just Queen and country, but they want to make a contribution. The Sandhurst motto is ‘We serve to lead,’ and that sums it up well.”