small group Army Lancers

Serving soldier teams up with University to put squadron through its paces


Returning to where he gained a first-class sport degree, Lieutenant Oliver Saunders has teamed up with his former tutors and current students of the University of Cumbria to put more than 50 soldiers from A Squadron of the Royal Lancers through a series of gruelling fitness tests. 

The visit comes as the University of Cumbria celebrates being awarded Silver under the Ministry of Defence Employer Recognition Scheme for its support to Defence and the wider Armed Forces community, and ahead of Armed Forces Day on 25 June 2022. 

Oliver invited biomechanics and research methods lecturer Dale Azzopardi to help devise activities to challenge the soldiers, who are based at Catterick Garrison, County Durham. 

Oliver, who trained at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst after graduating in 2019, said: “Healthy, fit, hardworking soldiers are the backbone of the military and activities and events are developed to help provide a rounded approach to not only maintaining a good level of fitness, but also living a healthy lifestyle. 

“Having been tasked to devise a sport and fitness event for my squadron, I’ve been interested in adding a scientific element and this continues to remain an area of focus for me about how we test our individuals. Therefore, I knew there was no better way of doing this, if we had the opportunity, than coming back to where I learned my own skills.” 

Kathryn Wain, University of Cumbria's principal lecturer for sport, added: “This is an example of the partnership working that our team is doing in relation to performance with athletes, professional clubs and organisations around the region; developing our students’ employability skills and providing valuable support to our partners.” 

Alison Hampson, director of the university’s Institute of Health, said: “We were delighted to welcome the Royal Lancers and Ollie back to our Lancaster campus, which itself started out as barracks for the King’s Own Royal Regiment before it became an educational base. We’re proud of the impact and contribution graduates like Oliver make across public services like the Armed Forces and other professional sectors. 

“Following confirmation that the Silver award has been bestowed upon the university, we’re looking forward to building upon our work supporting the armed forces community and are aiming to achieve gold in the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme.”

The Employer Recognition Scheme acknowledges employers who provide exceptional support to the armed forces community and defence by going above and beyond pledges in the Armed Forces Covenant, which the University of Cumbria signed in 2019



  1. The Employer Recognition Scheme rewards employers who support Defence People objectives and encourage others to do the same. This includes employing serving and former members of the Armed Forces community, and demonstrating flexibility towards training and mobilisation commitments for Reservists and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers.  

  1. UoC is among 51 organisations in the North West to be awarded Silver. Details: 


A full range of images is set out below. Alternatively, you can click here to access them. 

(l-r) Royal Lancers visit to University of Cumbria, June 2022 – Kathryn Wain, programme leader (sport), Institute of Health, University of Cumbria; Professor Brian Webster-Henderson, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Health, Environment and Innovation), University of Cumbria; Lt Oliver Saunders, A Squadron, Royal Lancers and 2019 University of Cumbria graduate; and Dale Azzopardi, lecturer, sport, University of Cumbria

University of Cumbria students and soldiers from The Royal Lancers on campus, June 2022

Members of A Squadron, The Royal Lancers taking part in speed testing at University of Cumbria (Lancaster campus), June 2022

Members of A Squadron, The Royal Lancers, enduring a 4km cycling sprint at the University of Cumbria, June 2022

University of Cumbria sports rehabilitation student Dylan George reviews soldier’s 4km Watt bike test during Royal Lancers fitness testing visit to Lancaster, June 2022  

A Squadron, Royal Lancers, put through their paces by sport students at the University of Cumbria’s Institute of Health, June 2022 


Royal Lancers undergo fitness testing at the University of Cumbria (Lancaster), June 2022 


Royal Lancers taking a break at the University of Cumbria during their day of fitness testing with university sport students and staff, June 2022


University of Cumbria sport rehabilitation student Conor Maher supports Royal Lancers during fitness testing at the University of Cumbria (Lancaster), June 2022


University of Cumbria sport rehabilitation lecturer Xavier Smith (front, white shirt) leads students as they run a sports massage clinic for A Squadron, The Royal Lancers during a day of fitness testing at the university campus in Lancaster, June 2022


University of Cumbria sport rehabilitation student Billie-Jo Saxton providing a soft tissue massage during the visit to its Lancaster campus by members of the Royal Lancers, June 2022 



Caitlyn Gribbon and Bryony Sharp, University of Cumbria final-year sport rehabilitation students, carrying out power tests with The Royal Lancers on campus, June 2022