A TOP former Army colonel and intelligence officer with the Royal Marines visited Llanwern High School in Newport today as part of his work with Nato and 10 Downing Street.
Tom Tugendhat, who is also a prospective Conservative MP in England, fought for four years as part of the Nato's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and was asked by Prime Minister David Cameron to visit Newport schools to make sure the younger generations know what Nato is and why this year's summit is coming to Newport.
After being shown round by head boy Harrison Troake, head girl Lucy Williams, and their deputies Thomas Davies and Nicole Hester, Mr Tugendhat spoke to Year 7 pupils on their first day of high school to compare working together and friendship to how the Nato Alliance operates.
Next he addressed Year 13 and answered detailed questions about the political situation in Ukraine and Russia, as well as a question by pupil Aimee Fuller about the terror threat level faced by Wales and Newport in particular while the summit is here.
She asked: "Now (with) the publicity that Nato has brought to Newport, do you feel that there may be more of a threat to Wales or that you are going to be able to defend us?"
Mr Tugendhat said: "Look at the police presence, the police are all over Newport in a way that I presume they're not normally. Whenever you do these events there's a change in the threat level in the local area, of course there is, but it's very successfully mitigated by a very effective police force. Your police chief round here is extraordinarily competent and is supported by organisations like MI5 and GCHQ... so no I don't think it's substantially changed the threat to Newport."
Speaking after the visit, during which Mr Tugendhat presented the school with a celebratory Nato coin which will be handed to heads of state this week, head teacher Peter Jenkins said: "Today we've had an inspirational visit from Tom Tugendhat to talk to a number of our pupils on the role of Nato and the value of the summit coming up within Newport. This historic occasion is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime event and I'm delighted that we as a school have been able to play a full part in that. The fact that our CCF have been invited to be guards of honour at the Prince of Wales' reception on Thursday is an enormous tribute to the youngsters and is going to provide life-long memories for them."
The school will be open between 9.45am and 2pm on both Thursday and Friday and will see 30 of its Cadets travel up to Celtic Manor to form a guard of honour at Thursday's reception.