Armed forces personnel have been helping support rapid onset Covid testing in schools across Bury.

The Catterick-based 5th Regimental Royal Artillery have sent in some of their troops to support the sites and train staff in management.

Councillor Eamonn O'Brien, leader of Bury Council, visited Parrenthorn High School to see how the joint effort was coming along.

"Although lockdown restrictions are being eased, coronavirus is still very much with us, and the infection is being spread particularly by people who have not been vaccinated - by school students and young working age adults," he said.

"This is why testing is so important, so we can quickly identify where there are outbreaks and clamp down on the virus spreading.

"It was a pleasure to visit Parenthorn and see our armed forces in action, supporting our schools and the Bury community to keep safe in these unprecedented times."

The Army's Covid Support Force (CSF) is the UK's largest peacetime deployment at home and the first ever nationwide resilience operation.

It supports schools with Lateral Flow Testing (LFT) in Bury, Oldham and Salford at the request of the local authorities, offering specialist skills in logistics, training and planning, to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Battery Commander, Major Liam O'Grady, said: "Every soldier looks forward to deploying on operations and it is a privilege to support UK operations and the general public.

"The Battery has received excellent support and been made to feel very welcome by everybody we have come into contact with across the Greater Manchester area.

Parenthorn head teacher, Mr Chris Bell, said: "We have worked tirelessly to ensure that pupils and staff are as safe as possible during very difficult times.

"With the ongoing, incredible support of pupils, parents, staff, governors and the local community, we are able to test pupils regularly and then support anyone who has tested positive, while being able to isolate any close contacts.

"This carefully planned process, working in partnership with the NHS and the council, has been imperative in striking a balance between safety and ensuring pupils have access to a strong curriculum whether in school or not.

"We have worked hard to reduce the negative impact of Covid-19 on pupils' education.

"Our Remote Learning plan supports pupils working from home and enables them to access the virtual classroom via live lessons.

"Although challenging, the staff and pupils have adapted really well to the pandemic and coped admirably with all the constraints.

"It was also amazing to see Cllr O'Brien and the military in school to observe the testing process."