Getting to know: Tom Nicoll, Croydon and Farnborough Military Preparation College

28th April 2017

Hate feeling confined to the classroom? As a teenager, MPCT Area Manager Tom Nicoll did, but that didn’t stop him pursuing his dream military career. He shares his story and describes why he feels MPCT can be a lifeline for so many young people.

Tom Nicoll, as Area Manager of both the Croydon and Farnborough Military Preparation Colleges, dedicates his time to supporting the development of 16-23 years olds, ensuring they are mentally and physically ready for their futures, whether that’s in the Armed Forces or other career paths.

But looking back to when he was the age of our current learners at MPCT, Mr Nicoll’s experiences growing up were very different.

He didn’t have the luxury of a team of trained instructors helping to make sure he was fully prepared for what was to come. At the age of 16, he had already joined the Royal Marines, making him one of the youngest people to ever pass selection.

“I left school at the age of 14 without getting any GCSE qualifications because I just hated the classroom environment; it wasn’t for me.

“I knew I wanted to join the military from a young age so I applied at the very first opportunity I could and then joined a couple of months after my 16th birthday.”

Mr Nicoll went on to have a very successful career within the military – he travelled around the world for training which included jungle training in Belize and arctic training in Norway, served in Afghanistan, sailed to America on a naval ship and trained with the US Army, and was a Physical Training Instructor.

In between the military and his job with MPCT, he took his hard work in a new direction and spent 6 months in Poland learning to fly a plane.

But it wasn’t all work and no play. Following his childhood achievement of playing for England’s Under 16s Hockey Team, he played hockey for the Navy and the combined Services team, which meant he went on tour to places including Australia, Argentina, Denmark and South Africa.

“I think my time in the military and my success with the hockey team just perfectly reflects what I am like as a person – if I want something, I will do everything that’s needed to make sure that I get it.

“While I hated more traditional subjects at school and would often get in trouble within those classes, I thrived in PE and was so dedicated that my teachers wouldn’t have a bad word to say about me. Because of my experiences, I can relate to a lot of learners at MPCT and can see the education system through their eyes.”

Mr Nicoll has now been working for MPCT since September 2016. He enjoys that every day is different, that it’s always a challenge, but more than anything, he enjoys that he can help learners follow a positive path in life.

“MPCT is a lifeline for a lot of teenagers who just don’t fit into the ordinary school curriculum. Our commitment to ‘active learning’ means they can do something they enjoy each and every day, while still gaining important qualifications, which is something I missed out on because I left school at such a young age. I really wish MPCT was around for me as it would have made a huge difference”.

Mr Nicoll’s passionate approach to working at MPCT has meant that both of the Colleges he manages, have continued to go from strength to strength since opening. But both Mr Nicoll and the rest of MPCT are always on the lookout for new recruits that are ready to take on a challenge.

The Military Preparation College welcomes applications and enquiries from both prospective learners and parents and guardians. Information sessions are held every Thursday from 10am – 12noon and 2pm – 4pm. Those interested in finding out more can visit or call 08442 438438.

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