A COWDENBEATH teenager this week embarked on his dream career after finally being able to persuade the Army that he is totally ready for the physical challenge of life in the paras.

Andy Foley, from High Street, has wanted to join-up since being a pupil at Dunfermline's St Columba's High School, after hearing the experiences of his brother and brother-in-law who are serving army officers.

But the 19 year-old had a major set-back when he went for the medical test which is needed to be undertaken by all recruits, when just 16.

Andy told the Times, "The Army medical people found that I had a heart murmur, even although it was something that had never been found in other tests I had. It all meant that I was unable to join up.

"It was a real blow but afterwards I felt that if I could prove to the service that I was 100 per cent fit then I could still get in." A keen Thai boxer, Andy stepped up his training at the town's Highlander Gym under the expert eye of Kenny Burnett and Angie Gibb.

Said Kenny, "Andy has always been a really good trainer and has turned into one of the gym's best fighters.

"It was hard to understand that he was technically not fit enough to join the Army, although I do know that they have very strict criteria.

"But he kept working hard and he is a very determined individual and he never gave up his hope of getting into the Forces." With the support of his colleagues at the gym he kept his mind focused on proving his fitness to the army medical people.

"I applied again and was turned down due to the heart murmur but I kept knocking on the door and I was asked to attend a three day selection process," he went on.

"It involved running a mile and a half under nine minutes, plus sit-ups and press-ups; then a four mile steeplechase on day two; and finally a five mile run up steep hills.

"I managed to finish second out of 20 in the first two disciplines and won the third so I was very pleased with the performance and I was really hoping that it would prove my fitness to them." He should not have worried for the Army people were impressed and last week he got the letter asking him to join the paras at Catterick Camp on Sunday.

"I could hardly believe that I had been successful and it means that I can join-up after all the disappointments of the past," he concluded.

Kenny Burnett was not at all surprised with the success of Andy at the fitness test session.

"He is a very fit, determined young man and I am sure that he will make a real success of his chosen career," added the gym guru.

"Andy is a shining example of what can be achieved if the mindset is right." The very popular Highlander's Gym member was met by colleagues on Thursday night who wished him a successful army career.

He is pictured shaking hands with Kenny Burnett watched by Angie Gibb and his fellow Thai fighters.