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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 August, 2004, 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK
Soldier is 9ft tall in bearskin
5ft 2 in Matthew Else with 7ft 3 in Martyn Walters, the smallest and tallest soldiers in the Irish Guards
Martyn Walters cannot fit in the sentry boxes in full uniform
A 7ft 3in soldier has become the tallest member of the Irish Guards.

Martyn Walters, 21, who was born in Burnley, Lancashire, and now lives in Birmingham, is the loftiest soldier in the Guards' 362-year history.

Complete with bearskin, he reaches 9ft and cannot fit into the Royal sentry boxes, meaning he has to be replaced by a shorter soldier when it rains.

He starts Royal duties next week with 5ft 2in Matthew Else, currently the smallest soldier in the Guards.

'Childhood dream'

The former pallet stacker befriended 25-year-old Mr Else when he went to hand in his standard uniform because it was too small.

He said: "I met Matthew when I went to hand in my small uniform and I saw him and said, `You are so small' and he said `You are so tall'."

Within the Irish Guards, height or whatever is never an issue
Major Alun Powell
Mr Walters, who will be based at Wellington Barracks in London, will fulfil a lifelong ambition by guarding the Queen.

He said: "I saw a guard on the news when I was 13 years old and I remember giving my mother a tap and saying, `Mummy, mummy, I am going to be one of those' and now here I am, exactly where I wanted to be.

"I am living my childhood dream."

Company commander Major Alun Powell said: "Within the Irish Guards, height or whatever is never an issue.

"It does not make any difference as long as soldiers are fit to do the job and can do it."

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