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Soldier shot dead at Northumberland training range named

Credit: Ministry of Defence

The soldier shot dead at a military training area in Northumberland, has been named as 24-year-old Conor McPherson from the Paisley area of Glasgow, in Scotland.

He was killed in a live firing exercise at Otterburn at around 11.15pm on Monday evening.

Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Private McPherson was from Paisley, Renfrewshire in Scotland. He enlisted into the Royal Regiment of Scotland in May 2014 as a combat infantryman. After completing his training in Catterick he was posted to The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, based at Fort George, Inverness, in February 2015, which is the unit he was serving with when he died.

Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Alasdair Steele said:

Private McPherson was a capable young soldier who had previously trained in both Kenya and France. He was hugely committed about his career in the Army, he had aspirations to join the Machine Gun platoon and attend a junior leadership course at the start of next year.

He constantly drove to develop himself physically and was well liked among his peers for his sharp wit and sense of humour. However, Private McPherson’s true passion was to his parents and his older sister – he was part of a very close knit family, and his great joy was spending time with them at the weekends and over leave.

The entire Battalion’s thoughts are very much with his family and friends.

– Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Alasdair Steele

Police say enquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances behind the incident. At this stage they believe it was a tragic accident and there are no suspicious circumstances.

A joint investigation is underway between police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which is being supported by the Ministry of Defence and the British Army.


What is Otterburn training area?

The shooting base is in a remote part of Northumberland National Park - the MoD own part of the park and use it as a military training area.

Otterburn Training Area was first established in 1911 as an artillery range, and training takes place seven days a week and for most of the year.

acres is the size of the whole training area
acres is the size of the firing exercise training area
  • There are two main live firing range areas, at Otterburn and Redesdale, for artillery, demolitions, all infantry weapons and restricted armoured vehicle firing.
  • Fighter aircraft and attack helicopters also practise ground attack firing, and there are parachute dropping zones.
  • Live firing ranges provide facilities for weapons from 5.56mm calibre small arms to artillery and 30mm guns on armoured reconnaissance vehicles.

Breakfast and banter for ex-service personnel

The Geordie Breakfast Club meets weekly in Newcastle Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

A breakfast club, set up to provide support and a friendly ear for former service people, is urging new members to join them.

The Geordie Breakfast Club was established in 2014 and regularly attracts several dozen people to its weekly get-togethers.

Its aim is to help people make the transition from military to civilian life, whether that has been a recent change, or one made decades ago.

The club meets at a restaurant on the outskirts of Newcastle, with members coming from across Northumberland, Teesside and from over the Scottish border.

As well as its social element, the club aims helps people facing work, domestic and health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Geordie Breakfast Club is part of a network of ninety similar organisations worldwide.

The regular sessions are a chance for ex-service people to meet Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

It helps get people back into the community and back into civilian life. It gives them a sense of wellbeing, makes them feel safe to come out into the community, and to sit with likeminded people and chat about military life

– Andy Wilson, club co-founder
The Geordie Breakfast Club is one of 90 worldwide Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Watch Helen Ford's full report here:

Military helps inspect flood defences across the region

Flood defences in York. Credit: British Army
Soldiers, sailors and airmen were tasked with inspecting 2,453 flood risk sites across the region. Credit: British Army
The inspection work came about after the flooding that hit many parts of the country earlier this year. Credit: British Army

Military personnel have been helping the Environment Agency in their efforts to reduce the risk of flooding in the North East. Soldiers, sailors and airmen were tasked with inspecting 2,453 flood risk sites across the region.

The inspection work came about after the flooding that hit many parts of the country earlier this year. They travelled around the North East’s coastlines, rivers, culverts and reservoirs recording any defects and reporting them to the Environment Agency.

Matt Crump, from the Environment Agency, said: “This has helped us gain a clearer picture of the current condition of local flood defences, which were put under significant pressure during storms, high tides and record levels of rainfall this winter.”


Full report: Military families this Christmas

For many, this Christmas will be a time of celebration with their families. However, hundreds of North East servicemen and women will be spending Christmas day away from home, in places like Afghanistan.

It means their children, partners and parents are here without them at what can be a very difficult time. We have met one family in Morpeth who share what it is like to be an army family at Christmas. Frances Read Reports.

Full report: South Shields soldier gets UK's first 'thought controlled' arm

A soldier from South Shields has become the first person in the UK to receive a 'thought-controlled' prosthetic arm.

Corporal Andrew Garthwaite lost his arm when he was hit by a rocket propelled grenade while serving in Afghanistan.

Now he is able to control the movement in his bionic arm by focusing his mind on nerves connected to muscles in his chest. Richard Wilson reports.

15 North Yorkshire soldiers sentenced after Kenya protest

The soldiers were based at Catterick Garrison. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

15 soldiers based at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire have been jailed for staging a sit-in protest while on a training exercise in Kenya.

A court martial heard that the men took the action to demonstrate against being led by commanders they described as "muppets".

The men were serving with the 1st Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment and sat on the floor when ordered to stand to attention.

All the soldiers pleaded guilty to disobeying a lawful command and were given sentences of between 40 and 60 days.

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