A former west Dorset student has been at the forefront of the battle against coronavirus, delivering vital testing across the South West.

Trooper (Tpr) Keelan Eveleigh, 25, a former Sir John Colfox Academy student of Wiltshire based The Royal Tank Regiment, has spent the past weeks as part of a mobile testing unit, one of many Army teams deployed around the country.

Pulled from his normal job as a crewman on the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank, Tpr Eveleigh is deployed to different locations to deliver testing on a daily basis.

He said: “During my deployment it has been our job to provide support for the Government by setting up various mobile testing sites throughout the south west area for the general public.

“It has been brilliant, feeling like you are giving something back directly to your community. I am proud to have been able to do something to support the NHS and to help the general public.”

The mobile testing units have been designed in partnership with Army engineers to meet clinical requirements and can be set up on less than 20 minutes, providing a drive through service with interaction done via a mobile phone with windows closed to minimise exposure.

Keenan added: “The main challenge was the initial start of the deployment when working at our first test site, we had a large number of people attending so we had to learn our new roles quickly in order for the site to run smoothly, this was achieved by being confident and rehearsing the test instructions in order to reassure and give the general public a clear understanding when handing out the tests.”

He said the nature of the job was unexpected, but everyone got the gist of it pretty quickly and came to terms with everything.

He added: “As a troop we all worked well, considering it was something we haven’t done before. I think because it was a different scenario it was good for team bonding, working under pressure and doing something that really mattered.”

Lieutenant Colonel Jim Howard, Commanding Officer, The Royal Tank Regiment, said: “Royal Tank Regiment soldiers continue to do a fantastic job, delivering mobile testing across the South West. For the last few months, they have provided Covid-18 testing 24/7, rain or shine at a variety of locations. This has meant being away from their families during lockdown but we know how important this role is.

“The South West is a key recruiting area for the Royal Tank Regiment and so it is great that we are able to give something back and also, more broadly, assist the Government’s plan to beat this pandemic and get the country back on its feet.”