AN eye-opening tour of Wyke Regis Training Camp left visitors in no doubt as to the vital work of the country’s Sappers.

The Camp Road facility hosts the country’s battle hardened Royal Engineers as they undertake unique training provided by the area including the Fleet.

The Bridging Camp’s inner training area allows Sappers to hone their skills on everything from raft building to familiarising themselves with state of the art weaponry.

Many have either returned from Afghanistan or are preparing for deployment to the war torn country in September.

The mayors of Chickerell and Portland met some of the war heroes face-to-face before taking control of a high powered £250,000 Combat Support Boat during the visit.

They also saw mobile water purification units, watched members of 36 Engineer Regiment build a bridge and were given a presentation on the camp’s history.

The visiting dignitaries, which included the High Sheriff of Dorset, Alan Frost, were shown around by Major Ian Drummond and Warrant Officer Anthony Cowburn – the camp’s only permanent residents.

Major Drummond, 46, has served as a Royal Engineer for 30 years in war zones including Iraq, Bosnia and the Falklands.

In his first year as the camp’s commandant Major Drummond said he wanted to let people know what happened at the camp.

He said: “I meet a lot of people that don’t understand what is on their doorstep.

“We are a very small unit that packs a big punch by offering a huge variety of engineer training to the field armies.

“I invited the mayors and high sheriff to basically show them what we do. What I want to do is give them the knowledge so in their official duties they can relay what we do.

“A very few people know about it and I hope the visit gave a positive outlook of what we are doing here in Wyke Regis.”

He added: “What we try to do here is as much as possible to engage with the local community and assist where we can.”

Portland Mayor Ian Munro-Price was amazed to see what was happening on his own doorstep.

He said: “What a great opportunity to come out to see what they are doing. I didn’t know what to expect. I was amazed at just what was going on on our own doorstep.”

Chickerell Mayor Mike Jolliffe said: “It’s a very interesting place. I never realised what went on here. I knew it was an Engineers’ camp but not all of the other aspects like the diving and other training.

“The thing that captured my imagination was the skills the boys have to have.”

He added: “It’s the first time I’ve got to look around and it was a real eye opener.”