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Officer cadets bring years of experience to new role

27 March 2017
A diverse group of Officer Cadets who have already clocked up a combined total of 334 years service are preparing to bring their experience to the Fleet on course at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC).

The group of 20 joined the Royal Navy as ratings and have been selected for promotion to the Officer Corps. The seven week bespoke training course is intended to prepare them for their new roles, focussing on strategic studies and critical thinking, as well as practical elements out on the River Dart.

Among them is self-confessed ‘naughty kid’ Officer Cadet (OC) Lucy Ingram, who joined the Royal Navy at 16, straight from school having achieved few qualifications. Starting as a communicator the 31-year-old spent some time as a weapons engineer before becoming a physical training instructor.  

OC Ingram, who comes from Leicester, later qualified as an exercise rehabilitation instructor and went on to achieve a first-class honours degree in rehabilitation supported by the Royal Navy.

She has spent the last two years working at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Headley Court, assigned to the neurological ward providing care to people with head injuries or degenerative diseases.

OC Ingram said, “Joining the PT branch changed my life. It allowed me to grow as a person and start switching on. It gave me the opportunities and confidence to believe that I could achieve anything I wanted to and prove my teachers wrong.  

Achieving my degree put me on the path to becoming a Medical Services Officer (MSO), a natural progression from rehabilitation. It was a case of what’s next, how far can I go and what are the next challenges the Navy can offer me. From my point of view a MSO is so versatile, there are a number of different jobs that I can do so that I’m not pigeon-holed.

“It’s opened up a lot of doors and a lot of opportunities to deploy again and meet more new people, which is something that I’m really looking forward to it.” 

Achieving my degree put me on the path to becoming a Medical Services Officer (MSO), a natural progression from rehabilitation. It was a case of what’s next, how far can I go and what are the next challenges the Navy can offer me

Officer Cadet Lucy Ingram, Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth

OC Aaron Wilding originally joined the Royal Navy as a Medical Assistant in 1999. He has spent a large proportion of his career working with the Royal Marines and reached the rank of Chief Petty Officer before his promotion. He is also aiming to specialise as a Medical Services Officer.  

The 34-year-old, who hails from Pensilva in Cornwall, said, “I saw transferring to the Officer Corps as a way of lengthening my career and also to broaden the challenges. Training has been good so far. I’ve already had a lot of experience of managing a team and getting the best out of people in difficult situations.

“By incorporating us I think the College uses that experience to get us to interact with the direct entrant Cadets outside of the course, firstly so we can learn from them and see their perspectives, and also so they can learn from us.”

OC Lyndsay Oldridge, from Blackwood in South Wales, embarked on her Naval career in 2004 and has spent the last four years assigned to the Royal Navy’s new Aircraft Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, in build, working as a Chief Petty Officer Marine Engineering.

The 35-year-old said, “Engineering as a kid always interested me. I was always fixing things with my dad; bikes, skateboards and building things as well. I did a sports science degree and then joined the Navy as an engineer. Because I didn’t have a specific engineering degree I started as a Rating to build my experience and get the skills and tools I required to transfer.

“I got a foundation degree in engineering through the Service and was selected for Warrant Officer last year.  Becoming a commissioned Officer opens a whole new avenue for me; different jobs and career reach because I practically reached the top of my field as a Rating in 11 years.

“My end goal would be to be assigned to the Queen Elizabeth or even the Prince of Wales.  I’ve got an ambition to go back to the Queen Elizabeth. It would be good to see what she has become when she joins the Fleet.”

Out of the 20 people on the course, nine of them have represented the Royal Navy at sport. OC Wilding is the GB over 30s gymnastic champion. OC Oldridge has played netball for the Royal Navy since joining the Service and last year was part of the winning team crowned Inter-Service champions; the first time the Navy had won the title for 23 years. OC Ingram lives and breathes snow-boarding.  She has managed the Royal Navy team for the last four years and has been the Navy champion for six. She’s also been successful at Inter-Services events and managed the UK Armed Forces team.

OC Wilding said, “Sport is quite important in the military because it does push your limits. Not only does it develop you physically, but it also makes you challenge yourself and has a lot of transferrable skills that you can bring to the job.”

The group of Officer Cadets are due to complete their course in April and if successful will commission as Royal Navy Officers at this year’s Lord High Admiral’s Divisions.  They will then progress on to specialist training before beginning the next chapter of their career.

OC Ingram said, “The dream at 16 was to travel the world while getting paid for it and enjoying everything the Navy has to offer. I’ve never forgotten that and I always made it my mantra to take every opportunity. It literally is the best job in the world.”

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