PUPILS at a Southampton school were in for a treat with a special visit

The children at St Mary's School watched in awe as a Royal Navy Merlin helicopter landed at the Midanbury Lane site

With help from French teacher Lorna Harper it was a chance for the youngsters to get first hand experience of what life can be like in the armed forces.

Mrs Harper's husband, a Royal Navy Engineer, arranged a crew of 846 sqn Commando Helicopter Force to bring in the impressive aircraft.

And the children climbed into the craft to get a hands-on feel for it

Head teacher Claire Charlemagne said: “We hope that giving our students an up close and personal experience of the inner working of a helicopter, and the work of the Fleet Air Arm, may inspire the next generation of naval recruits.”

It means the children are now part of a tradition of St Mary's pupils to see the landing, after pupils in 1967 and 1980 also watched a naval helicopter land at their school