An army cadet’s career campaign marched a step closer yesterday after capturing the grades he needed for university.

Barnard Castle School Combined Cadet Force regimental sergeant major Hamish McAllister secured a place at Oxford Brookes University to read psychology – his fallback plan to a successful career in the Army.

But the 18-year-old still has his eyes set on Sandhurst to become an officer in the Household Cavalry pursuing a family passion for the military services that stretches back five generations.

“I’m hoping to hear by September whether my application has been successful and I can go to Sandhurst,” said Hamish, the son of a retired colonel in the Royal Army Medical Corp and nurse in the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps.

“I had fancied being a commando until a recruiter pointed out how smart the Household Cavalry look on the various ceremonial duties they perform and the fact they also get to operate military reconnaissance vehicles as a job.

“The school’s CCF has been amazing offering me the chance as RSM to gain leadership experience and develop the values and skills required by the armed forces.

“Being appointed one of three Lord Lieutenant’s cadets at school and also being made a master cadet was also a great privilege that will stand me in good stead for the future.”

Meanwhile, head girl Emily Kelly, of Hunwick, made no drama of her excellent set of grades despite being a scholar in the subject. Her A* and two As secured her a place at Durham University to read German with liberal arts.

“Being a drama scholar was so much fun and really boosted my self-confidence,” said the 18-year-old.

“I’m now looking to do something that will allow me to work and live abroad, perhaps in the civil service, and work that will help tackle climate change, which is a huge issue for my generation.”

For head boy Joe Gibbons, 18, of Barnard Castle, the results were the culmination of a challenging but rewarding year.

“The lockdowns were difficult for everyone and I did my best to ring round the lower year groups to make sure students were doing ok and feeding back to staff if they were struggling at all,” said Joe, who is planning to coach sport during a gap year before studying economics.

“The first lockdown was tough and talking to other students also helped me as I realised we were all in the same position and not alone.”

92% of the school’s Year 13s achieved grades of A*- C, with an overall 100% pass rate.

Headmaster Tony Jackson said: “Barney students have shown incredible character and perseverance throughout their Sixth Form journey, embracing and engaging in school life, regardless of the challenges faced.

“These results perfectly illustrate this positive outlook and I wish each and every student all the very best for the future, as they embark upon the next chapter of their lives.”