Supporting International Women's Day 2019

On Friday 8 March, eight members of the Corps provided support to the City of London International Women’s Day Breakfast, chaired by ITV newsreader Julie Etchingham. The event celebrated the contribution of women to the Square Mile with a particular focus on encouraging and supporting young people on their chosen career pathway and promises to bring new ideas and inspiration.

In addition to the support provided, two FANYs were interviewed by the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association.

Helena Horsburgh

Q1. Many people might not know what the FANY is – how did you find out about it and what was the appeal for you to join?

I was introduced to the FANY by a fellow member, Dot Newman, who has been a very active member. I had recently moved from Dublin, where I’d been working for the last two years, to London, and had mentioned to her that I was looking for something extra to get stuck into. She told me all about the organisation and really highlighted what an incredible, diverse group of women the FANY is, all united by a unique and rare “can do” attitude. I was (and still am) in awe of Dot’s enthusiasm and willingness to throw herself into any opportunity that the FANY presents to her—quite literally in the case of her two trips to France to learn parachuting! My interest was definitely piqued at that stage, so I agreed to go along to an Open Evening. I was a little intimidated by some aspects of the training year, mainly around the two camps that we participate in, but decided that I had nothing to lose by going through the application process. As I went through the steps, I got more and more excited about the opportunity and was absolutely delighted to find out I’d been offered a place!

Q2. Myth buster question! – What was something that surprised you during your training? Maybe an assumption you had that turned out to be different or surprising in some way?

As a city-dweller whose hobbies have generally involved being indoors, warm, and dry, I was apprehensive about how I would get on with the two weekend camps that make up part of the training year, as I hadn’t done much camping in the past. I ended up being surprised in two ways. Firstly, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the group gelled during the training, and how much we carried each other through the experience, managing to avoid any sense of humour failures along the way! What’s more, I was actually surprised by myself; I found that I got stuck in way more than I thought I would have, and genuinely enjoyed the experience both times. I came home from both weekends feeling a huge sense of accomplishment at having done something outside of my comfort zone, and actively relishing the opportunity rather than just getting through it. I’m now much more into outdoor pursuits, and love that the FANY has opened up a whole new range of activities to me.

Q3. The FANY is an all female unit – what are the pros and cons?

Having gone to a mixed comprehensive school, I haven’t really been in many all-female settings and I absolutely love it. There’s something very energising about being in a group of like-minded yet diverse individuals, who are all committed to learning, and to volunteering their skills. My group of Recruits became very tight-knit very quickly (as I’m told is the norm), and since joining the Corps as full members it’s been great to broaden that group out by getting to know members from across the organisation. I honestly don’t see any downsides!

Q4. On IWD, what about being part of the FANY makes you feel most empowered?

For me it’s two things: the prestigious history of the organisation, and the incredible group of women in the FANY. Our history never ceases to amaze and humble me, especially when I think of the bravery and ingenuity of our early members who supported on the frontlines of World War I or who risked (and, in some cases, lost) their lives as members of the SOE in World War II. The idea that I’ve been selected to be a member of an organisation which counts such illustrious women as part of their history, is incredibly empowering (and a little scary). Back to the modern day, I’m constantly amazed by the skills, humour, and commitment of everyone I meet in the organisation. We all come from different backgrounds, work in different areas, and are skilled in different ways, meaning there are endless opportunities to learn from each other, and build connections with people I otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to meet.

Kate Williams

Q1. Many people might not know what the FANY is – how did you find out about it and what was the appeal for you to join?

Like many, I had never heard of the FANY before my sister became a recruit. Being a naturally competitive sibling I immediately wanted in. However, when I actually listened to what my sister was doing as a recruit, there was no question that I wanted to get involved. Luckily, I made it past the interview and open day and became a recruit myself in September 2017.

Q2. Myth buster question! – What was something that surprised you during your training? Maybe an assumption you had that turned out to be different or surprising in some way?

The nine-month commitment to training seemed really daunting at first. However, setting aside every Wednesday in my diary just became routine and it was great meeting up with the girls every week.

Q3. The FANY is an all female unit – what are the pros and cons?

I have never been involved in an all-female organisation before now and what I have found is an incredibly practical group of people that you can plonk into the middle of any situation and they will pick it up and run with it no matter how complicated it seems. There always seems to be a FANY for any situation.

Also, there are some incredibly impressive women that are in a most diverse range of roles at work which makes for some very interesting Specialist Interest Lectures.

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