A newly qualified Army officer from Porthleven has been thrown straight into the military’s response to Covid-19 as one of his first duties under his new rank.

Second Lieutenant Connor McLelland, aged 23, only commissioned from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in April as part of the ‘Covid-19 pass out’ - and within weeks he had trained as a mobile testing unit commander, sent to the West Midlands as part of a Coronavirus Support Force.

Connor serves with Wiltshire based 47th Regiment Royal Artillery, who were one of the first units to send testing unit personnel. They have had to leave training early due to Operation Rescript, the name given to the military's contribution to the pandemic response.

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Connor’s father was in the Royal Marines and helped inspire his son to consider a career in the British Army.

The 23-year-old had always wanted to become an officer but could not get the academic points needed to get into Sandhurst initially, so joined the Royal Engineers as a soldier after a short stint in the Parachute Regiment.

After excelling in this role he was recommended by senior officers for his long-sought place at the military academy.

Falmouth Packet:

Second Lieutenant Connor McLelland has only just joined the Army

Connor said: “Being an MTU commander has been a really good opportunity to get involved on the Covid-19 frontline with a small, tight-knit team.

“It’s very worthwhile helping worried people get tested as quickly as possible and especially satisfying being able to reassure elderly people and help them use the phone app.

"People with Covid-19 symptoms should go online and book a test – it isn’t painful and there is plenty of capacity to meet needs.

"Anyone in England is eligible. If the result is positive you will hear from NHS Test and Trace who will explain what steps you need to take.”

Each mobile testing unit consists of 12 soldiers, operating from a purpose-designed van. The units can be set up in 20 minutes and are capable of conducting hundreds of coronavirus tests per day.