A FORMER army mechanic who served in Afghanistan is heading for the BBC after a change in career path led him to enrol at Teesside University.

David Lee, 26, is due to start a six month placement for BBC Breakfast, working as a broadcast journalist.

Although the new role seems like a world away from army life, David said there are similarities in that they both involve working in highly pressurised environments and having to meet strict deadlines.

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David, from New Marske, is one of two North-East graduates selected in a scheme set up in memory of former BBC Breakfast Editor Alison Ford, who died from cancer last year. Alison was originally from Newcastle and wanted to give more people from the North-East the opportunity to work on national news programmes.

“It is going to be an incredible experience and, if I do well, will hopefully lead to other opportunities,” explained David.

“My ambition is to work in TV and documentaries. This is my first foot in the door and will be fantastic for my CV. I think the scheme is massively important and has given me a chance to work in national news straight after leaving university.”

David served in the army for five years, completing a tour of Afghanistan in 2009. However, he always saw it as a job rather than a career and after deciding to leave the army he enrolled at Teesside University to study television and film production.

“It is something I have always been interested in and when I saw the course at Teesside University I jumped at the chance,” explained David.

“The course has been brilliant and I would not have been given the chance to work for the BBC if it was not for all the support and encouragement from staff in the School of Arts & Media.

“They fight really hard, not only to get these opportunities for students, but to make sure we are well prepared for the process.

“It is going to be quite different from the army, but there are elements that are the same – both jobs require you to work under pressure and to meet tight deadlines, so I hope to use some of the skills I learnt in the army during my time at the corporation.”

Mark Handscomb, senior lecturer in online journalism at Teesside University said: “This is an extraordinary opportunity to join BBC Breakfast. It is rare for graduates to begin their career in network, as opposed to local television, but David has shown incredible commitment and we wish him luck in his new career.”