Members of Badger Squadron, Royal Tank Regiment pulled out all the stops to give a sick 11-year-old boy from Lancashire a day to remember on Wednesday (3rd April).

Ever since he was little, Noah Wilsdon had always wanted to be a soldier, but he has an undiagnosed lung condition which means he spends long periods in hospital and every night has to have 12 hours of oxygen.

His parents asked the Make-a-Wish UK charity if they could help to make his dream of being a soldier come true and they turned to the Tidworth-based RTR for help.

Salisbury Journal: Noel in the Challenger simulator

Badger Squadron Leader Major James Stanton and his soldiers were only too willing to help, coming in from Easter leave and despite this being a very busy period and laid on a special day of surprises for Noah.

Firstly, when he arrived at his hotel on Tuesday night, there was a specially tailored combat suit with sergeants badges of rank and a set of military identity discs.

On arrival at Aliwal Barracks he was met by a Guard of Honour and piped into the Regimental Headquarters by a Regimental piper. He was then shown his personal battle webbing and all of the personal weapons that the soldiers carry.

Salisbury Journal: Noel commanding the challengerNoel commanding the challenger (Image: David Falcke)

He then went to the simulator wing where he learnt the basics of driving, loading the 120mm gun and the commanders’ duties. On moving to the tank park he was introduced to the Challenger 2 tank sitting in the commander’s cupola and the driver’s seat.

Then onto the Plain sitting in the commander’s seat where he experienced cross country driving and then joined soldiers from the squadron in a woodland hide where he dismounted and joined them in a defensive position where the drove off a determined attack by the enemy.

“It was brilliant, a real day to remember” said Noah, “Amazing, so much better than I imagined, so many memories. I’ve had a wonderful time, thank you.”

Father Martin Wilsdon said it was “A once in a lifetime experience, it has been wonderful for him even though he struggled a bit. He was asked by Make-a-Wish if he would like to go to Disneyland but no, a day with the tanks was what he wanted. A huge thank you to the RTR.”

“We were honoured to host him,” said Major Stanton. “And only too glad to give this young man a taste of life in the Army and make his wish come true.”