The plan was to join the Royal Marines and enjoy an illustrious military career - Dan Jackson is glad his life didn’t go to plan.
While still in training - after transferring from the Army - he was struck down by debilitating glandular fever.
It eventually put paid to his dreams of being a commando.
Dan came out of the forces and started looking for a job. But what to do? He only had school qualifications.
At the same time his wife Charlotte, whom he’d met while she was in the RAF, fell pregnant.
The couple moved from Portsmouth back to her hometown of Sheffield and Dan started looking for a job.
He worked in a pub for a while before applying for an apprentice position with Virgin Media.
Today he is half way through the year-long course - and now with two girls aged two and five months - he says he’s happy to be in Civvy Street.
Dan, of Intake, said: “I would never leave this job and go back to the forces.
“Under the circumstances I left, with no proper qualifications other than from school, this is a great route into a very technical job that you need training for.
“I needed to be earning a wage but I’m not much of a college-goer. I like to be learning on the job.”
Dan is studying an NVQ level 2 in communications technology as well as adult literacy, numercy and IT.
His job involves fixing internet, broadband and phone problems at people’s homes.
He said: “I like the freedom and responsibility to work on my own. The main problem I deal with on day-to-day basis is the internet not working - and I can’t leave until it’s fixed.”
Dan shadowed a technician for seven weeks before being given his own van and equipment.
He began with a target of up to four jobs a day but will eventually be required to do up to 16.
Every two weeks he attends an in-house study day and is set to graduate in August.
He hopes one day to look after large networks or entire exchange areas.
Nationally, Virgin Media is set to create 6,000 jobs under plans to invest £3 billion in expanding its broadband network to more homes and businesses.
The company, which is owned by US firm Liberty Global, has described the five-year plan as the single biggest investment in broadband digital infrastructure in the UK for more than a decade.
It will extend its fibre network to around four million additional premises, taking the number of homes and business to which the company can offer services to nearly 17 million by 2020.
The expansion is expected to create 6,000 jobs in the UK at Virgin Media and its construction partners.
It will also increase the number of apprenticeships created by the company to 1,000 over the next five years.