CHRISTMAS came early for a 23-year-old from Salisbury as he celebrated his formal commissioning as a Royal Navy Officer. 

Midshipman Kieran Player was one of the latest group of Officer Cadets who took part in the passing-out parade at Royal Naval College (BRNC), watched by their families, friends and distinguished guests.

Vice Admiral Duncan Potts, Director General Joint Force Development and Defence Academy, was the VIP inspecting officer.

To earn his place on the parade ground, Kieran completed an intensive 30-week training course.

As part of his training Kieran was assigned to the helicopter carrier and assault ship HMS Ocean, acting as the Flagship for the Standing NATO Maritime Group, for her last deployment in the Mediterranean before decommissioning.

Kieran said “I have wanted to be a Naval Pilot most of my life. I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by a wealth of aviation in Salisbury. The last 30 weeks have been challenging mentally and physically but hugely rewarding.

"I have experienced highs and lows I never dreamed of, but the course and staff at Dartmouth has set me up for an amazing future in the Royal Navy. The feeling of accomplishment is indescribable.

"In the future I hope to complete flight training and gain my wings, to fly the F35-B aircraft off the new carriers, before, maybe, getting to Boscombe Down as a test pilot, or commanding 809 Naval Air Squadron.”

With the first phase of his training complete Kieran will remain at BRNC to begin his professional course before moving on to pilot training.

By choosing a military career Kieran is following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps. His father, Rodney, is a former Royal Navy pilot, while Kieran’s grandfather, John, was an electrical engineer in the Royal Navy and served in Korea.