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Pupils attend author talk by former SAS Chris Ryan

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Fifteen Year 7 and 8 pupils were on the edge of their seats when they were given the opportunity to attend a talk at St Olave’s School by former SAS corporal Chris Ryan, bestselling author of ‘The One That Got Away’, on his life in the SAS and his career as a writer.

Surely this is the stuff of fiction, they thought, as Chris regaled the audience with details of the rigours of the SAS selection process, the horrific creepy-crawlies he encountered during jungle training (the tales about parasitic spiders and worms are the stuff of nightmares) and an exciting recount of the time a parachute jump went very wrong.
What made it very real, though, was that during his 10 years’ service in the SAS, Chris lost 18 of his comrades, five of whom he was with when they died. The physical endurance tests he underwent, the events he witnessed and the campaigns he served demanded much of him physically and mentally and provide much of the inspiration behind his writing, including his new Special Forces Cadets series, three titles of which he introduced to the children.

Asked why he enrolled into the army at the age of 16, he revealed that it was as a result of reading ‘Devil’s Guard’ by George Elford as a child.

Did he have any advice for budding authors? ‘Write about what you know and never listen to your critics: you must believe in your story and believe in yourself,’ came the reply.

At the end of the presentation several of our pupils took the opportunity to buy some of Chris’s books and chat with him as he signed their books. They are currently devouring them, no doubt all too well aware of just how much fact is contained within the fiction.

Paul Mulryne

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