Women in the Armed Forces

April 28, 2022

As part of the Dundee Women’s Festival (DWF) in March, Highland RFCA joined forces with Dundee International Women’s Centre (DIWC) for an event called ‘Friendship, Adventure and New Challenges: Women in the Armed Forces’.

Four female Armed Forces personnel visited DIWC on March 10. It was a great opportunity for local women and their children to find out more about the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force as well as the Cadet organisations in their local areas and communities.

The event’s emphasis was on female opportunities and achievements, with the women coming together to support each other and gain more insight into the Armed Forces. It also highlighted career opportunities for women and girls in STEM, showcasing the diversity and inclusion of the Armed Forces and Cadet movement.

The female tri-service team consisted of Commando Training Centre Royal Marines Support Wing Clerk Able Seaman First Class Louise Dorsett, 225 (Scottish) Medical Regiment Ambulance Driver and Reservist Lance Corporal Kayleigh Holden, Royal Air Force Community Engagement Team Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Sergeant Sandy Neill and Headquarters 51st Infantry Brigade & Headquarters Scotland Staff Officer Second Class Engagement Operations Major Chloe Tisshaw.

Female tri-service representatives in front of the battlefield ambulance (from left): LCpl Kayleigh Holden, AB1 Louise Dorsett, Maj Chloe Tisshaw and Sgt Sandy Neill.

Able Seaman Dorsett joined the Royal Navy in 2016, first serving on HMS Diamond. She has represented the Royal Navy in various sports, such as skeleton, hockey, windsurfing, parachuting and gymnastics. She is currently based in England and has featured in the national Royal Navy campaign ‘Made in the Royal Navy’. When asked about the television advert she was recruited for, she said: “The advert spreads positivity for women, it’s empowering! I hope that I can be seen as a role model to other young girls.”

Sergeant Sandy Neill said: “I have been with the Royal Air Force for almost 36 years, starting out in catering, then moving onto recruitment and finally onto Community Engagement. I have had the privilege of working in many different countries with some amazing people, including Afghanistan and Oman. In my current role, I work with a small team covering Scotland and Northern Ireland, engaging with the wider community groups. We also conduct team building exercises and personal development training to some of the young people in our communities.”

Major Tisshaw said: “I joined the Army in 2000 as a Combat Medical Technician. I qualified as a nurse and commissioned into the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps in 2004. I currently work in King’s Cross Hospital in Dundee. As a reservist, I have travelled to places such as Georgia, Canada, Cyprus and Gibraltar.”

The tri-service team brought along ration packs, military equipment and a battlefield ambulance to show to the visitors at DIWC.

One of the visitors trying out the ration packs and military equipment with the help of AB1 Louise Dorsett and Maj Chloe Tisshaw.

The children were overjoyed at the opportunity to see the ambulance. Major Tisshaw and Lance Corporal Holden demonstrated some first aid with Highland RFCA mascot, Sergeant Major George (a cuddly toy bear). One of the DIWC mothers who attended the event said: “My child enjoyed the ambulance visit so much, he keeps talking about it to his dad.”

The women and children were excited to see the battlefield ambulance.

DIWC’s Family Learning Project Worker Salma Gani said: “It was a really fun, happy and memorable day.”

The visitors found the event fun, inspiring and informative, motivating them to learn new skills and take the next step in their careers. One of the attendees said: “Thank you so much for giving this amazing session with female soldiers.”

Overall, the feedback after the event was positive, highlighting how friendly and welcoming the servicewomen were.

DWF is an annual event run in the Dundee and Angus area to span International Women’s Day on March 8. This year’s theme was ‘Today’s Women Shape Tomorrow’s World’, covering March 5-20. The Chair of DWF, Prue Watson, attended the event and was delighted at the positive response. Highland RFCA was one of the sponsors for the DWF this year. Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Silver Award holder, University of Dundee, also sponsored the events.

To find out more about Dundee International Women’s Centre, click HERE.

To find out more about Dundee Women’s Festival, click HERE.