The first London branch of a college that trains young people for careers in the armed forces has opened in Croydon.

The Croydon Military Preparation College is the 18th branch of the college to open in the UK, and claims to "provide those interested in careers in the armed forces with the best possible chance to pass selection and complete basic training".

Based at Meridian High School in New Addington, the free-to-attend college aims to offer 16 to 19 year olds help in developing "physical fitness, functional skills and self-confidence".

Martin Giles, headmaster at Meridian, welcomed the arrival of the new college at his school.

He said: "I am honoured that the Military Preparation College has chosen us as their London base. The tremendous service that current and ex-military personnel give to our country is all too often underestimated."

There is no deadline for applications to the new college, as new "recruits" will be accepted on a weekly basis.

The average length of a student's study period is 27 weeks, according to the Military Preparation College (MPCT).

Huw Lewis, founder and managing director of MPCT, said: "Given the right environment, young people from all types of backgrounds can and do succeed. Teamwork, personal pride, physical and mental robustness, duty, community spirit, confidence and humility are the qualities that we endeavour to teach our learners.

"With more and more young people looking for ways to develop practical vocational skills, we are pleased to be bring our unique style of active learning to London and to work closely with a school that shares a similar outlook."

MPCT was founded in 1999 and claims to have helped more than 2,000 young men and women go into the armed forces.

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