Ex-serviceman awarded OBE for youth work

Mike Hamilton, founder and CEO of Commando Joes, has been rewarded for his commitment to young people
Mike Hamilton, founder and CEO of Commando Joes, has been rewarded for his commitment to young people
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The head of a borough firm, which provides military-style activities in schools, has been named in the New Year’s Honours list.

Mike Hamilton, founder and CEO of Leigh-based Commando Joe’s, is to be awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to young people.

Commando Joes runs military-influenced activities at schools in the UK

Commando Joes runs military-influenced activities at schools in the UK

Mike, a former bomb disposal expert who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, formed Commando Joe’s after leaving the armed forces in 2009.

He hires ex-military personnel to inspire and motivate young people, building resilience through educational learning and personal development services for schools across the UK.

Based in Meadowcroft Way, the firm aims to have a positive impact on behaviour, attendance, academic results and is helping to building confidence and boosting aspirations in the schools it works with.

Initially just Mike and his van, Commando Joe’s is now established in thousands of schools across the UK, providing fun, physical fitness sessions in schools, based on military-style obstacle courses.

“As a company, we’re passionate about making a difference in schools,” Mike said.

“Good educational engagement is vital for a young person’s development, but building character and enhancing communication skills are also incredibly important factors that shouldn’t be overlooked.”

The company received £1m in funding from the Department for Education (DfE) to expand its services across the country to benefit more schools and young people.

And in 2015, a team from Swansea University looked at the work of Commando’s Joe, and concluded that bringing a military-type ethos into a both primary and secondary schools saw considerable improvements in behaviour and achievement.

The researchers also found punctuality in primary schools improved by 31 per cent, an equivalent to pupils spending eight days per year more in the classroom.

The results were from a three-year study being undertaken in Swansea which found Commando Joe’s brought about year-on-year improvements in raising standards and boosting pupil engagement and behaviour.

Feedback from children suggests military-ethos provision was popular, with pupils telling researchers the activities boosted their confidence, taught them to communicate better, encouraged them to contribute more in lessons and make new friends and made them feel proud and confident in their abilities.

Teachers also gave the thumbs-up, saying the providers were approachable, good role models for their pupils and fitted in well with schools.

The activities also created a positive and calmer feel in the classroom, the study found.