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Events students recognised for military mascot idea

Two Events Management students were invited to assist with a new Navy recruitment drive – after seeing their idea for a military mascot march ahead.

Tanya Thomson and Gemma Leaning, who are in the second year of a foundation degree, have been based in the Armed Forces Major Events Team (AFMET) office in Cleethorpes for around a year.

During that time, they have conceived and developed the idea of Blighty the Bear, a gender neutral mascot designed to offer a “softer image” of the military.

Blighty has an official Royal Navy uniform and rank as well as a Royal Air Force flight suit, and also represents the British Army.

“We wanted to create a mascot which was recognisable to children, and showed the forces are about peace and not just war,” Gemma and Tanya explained.

“We held a competition to find a name and had more than 250 entries which was amazing and shows how much the idea has taken off.”

The bear has proved such a success that AFMET was invited to assist in a new Navy recruitment drive aimed at younger children, hosted by the Ministry of Defence.

Blighty participated in a photo shoot on board the new HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Victory, before the team was treated to a private guided tour of both vessels.

“We gained access to areas restricted to the general public,” Gemma and Tanya explained. “It was a wonderful experience seeing behind the scenes of these amazing vessels and Naval shipyard.

“We met some lovely people during our visit and even had a gentleman book Blighty to attend his family fun day in August during our visit.”

Gemma said the response to Blighty was “outstanding and beyond our expectation”, adding: “We even got mobbed by French students wanting photos.

“They were obviously more excited by the bear than the historic HMS Victory right next to them!

“We’re very proud to have created Blighty and honoured to be regarded as part of the AFMET team.

“I’m sure Blighty will have a great impact, not only for AFMET but the military as a whole, and we look forward to the many more adventures ahead.”

The images of Blighty will also be used to run a story in the Navy News, a magazine distributed throughout military worldwide.

Alex Baxter, Managing Director of AFMET, said: “Tanya and Gemma have been here for a year, but already seem like part of the woodwork.

“They have come up with a couple of unique initiatives such as Blighty, which was entirely their idea.

“They’ve just come in and cracked on which is exactly what we needed, so we’re very pleased. It’s been an outstanding success having them here.”