Aldershot News & Mail : 2020-08-12

5 : 5 : 5


5 NEWS & MAIL WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12, 2020 News From the frontline to silver screen, Gavin is a model profession­al MR HAMPSHIRE 2020 SEEKS NATIONAL TITLE By ALEC EVANS He moved to live with his father in the UK in Wolverhamp­ton at the age of 11, having grown up in the parish of Hanover in Jamaica. Moving from the Caribbean climate to England, where it was snowing on arrival, was quite a culture shock. As he grew up, he got into some trouble so decided to join the military to gain discipline. He said: “I thought ‘my dad didn’t take me from Jamaica to come to England to run about on the streets and go in and out of trouble’.” In 2007 he found himself being sent to fight in Afghanista­n, an experience that still haunts him today. “When I first landed there, I thought ‘this is it – I am actually going into battle now’,” he said. “I was alright because I had my friends around me, they’re the ones I’ve been training with. I was like ‘okay, this is it’. I thought ‘this is like Call of Duty’.” While the heat and terrain was not a complete shock, having trained in diverse climates such as Canada, Kenya and The Falkland Islands, witnessing the deaths of fellow soldiers had a big impact. During his time there, Gavin lost five comrades. With support from the Royal British Legion he has learned to manage the PTSD he still lives with. Despite this, he does not regret his service. He said: “[It was] 100% a worthwhile experience, I don’t regret joining the Army. I don’t see them as just my comrades, them as my brothers. “It teaches you how to be a leader. Altogether, I’m glad. I would advise a lot of people [it’s worth it] if that’s what they’re thinking of doing.” Another low point in the Army, though, came in the UK, when he says he suffered racist abuse during an adventure training course in Wales. He was doing some blindfolde­d rock climbing and realised a number of people were laughing at him, including more senior soldiers. Having closed his eyes, he says someone had slipped a gorilla mask on his face without him realising. Gavin said he felt torn between anger and not wanting to lash out at people who were of a higher rank. He said: “Straight away I had a fighting mentality, I wanted to fight. That was horrible to be honest, these are meant to be the guys who run things – if anything is going wrong in terms of racial stuff, you’re meant to go to them. If these guys are the ones who are doing this, who are you meant to go to?” Having left the Army, Gavin became involved in TV and film, from appearing in the BBC’s Dracula to starring as an extra in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. Now his latest goal in his post-military life is to be crowned Mr British Isles, in a national modelling competi- I see @AlEv605420­26 GAVIN Francis has had the sort of life you would expect to be reading about in an autobiogra­phy. From growing up in Jamaica as a boy and emigrating to the UK, to serving as a British soldier in Afghanista­n, he then secured roles on a Fast and Furious film and TV shows including the BBC’s Dracula. The now 34-year-old even scooped £20,000 as a contestant on Deal or No Deal while still serving in the Army. Now, having battled with posttrauma­tic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the horrors he witnessed on the frontline, the Farnboroug­h resident is vying to represent the country in a very different way, by being named Mr British Isles. Gavin, who can be found working shifts in Aldershot’s Fusion bar, said he is hoping for local support to drive him on to clinch the national title, having already been named Mr Hampshire 2020. He said: “After clinching third place out of 10,000 as Mr Aldershot 2018, I was selected again this year with high hopes of winning the national competitio­n this time.” With such an eclectic mix of jobs and experience­s, Gavin talks as if he has always looked to make life decisions to keep himself on the right path, starting with his decision to join the Army. Gavin Francis, of Farnboroug­h, was born in Jamaica, served with the Army in Afghanista­n, has appeared on TV and in film as an extra, and is now in the running to be named Mr British Isles 2020 DARREN PEPE, AN200646 tember 26 to represent Hampshire and compete for the national title, hoping to be selected by the judges. You can follow his progress on twitter by searching @GavinRf179­82. tion that would see him gain a profession­al modelling portfolio, and dedicated support to build up a social media presence. He will travel to Chester on Sep- Common remains unsafe after 140 acres are affected by fire the Sunningdal­e area – were asked to leave their homes on Friday as flames approached properties. Those residents will now begin to be allowed to return home, SFRS has confirmed. The statement added: “Surrey Fire and Rescue Service continues to call on residents to avoid creating unnecessar­y fires and not to light bonfires, disposable barbecues and to avoid dropping litter”. Fire crews are expected to remain at the Common for most of the week as high temperatur­es continue to be forecast. A statement from SFRS said: “Surrey’s firefighte­rs, along with a team of national specialist wildfire tactical advisors, warn that the weather conditions continue to create a situation where the fire could rapidly take hold again and that further evacuation­s may be required. Walkers and other visitors are also being asked to continue to avoid the Common for their own safety”. No Surrey residents were evacuated due to the fire, but more than 100 people in The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead – in A HEATH fire at Chobham Common could “rapidly take hold again” due to hot and dry weather conditions, firefighte­rs and wildlife tactical advisors have warned. The severe blaze, which has affected around 140 acres of heath and scrubland, was initially reported to Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) just after noon on Friday. Fire crews were still tackling hot spots and damping down the area on Sunday. Although the heath fire has passed its peak, there is a concern that it could easily flare up again. PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTE­D BY PRESSREADE­R PressReade­ +1 604 278 4604 . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW

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