Squadron Sergeant Major Read

2020’s Top Ten Stories: The Royal Engineer’s first female Squadron Sergeant Major

In at number 2 is The Royal Engineer’s first female Squadron Sergeant Major. As we countdown to 2021, we are taking a look at some of our most-read stories from the last year.

Each day in the run-up to New Year’s Day we will be reposting our most-read stories by you from 2020.

So far we’ve had;

10–2020’s Top Ten Stories: Inside Strategic Command

9 — 2020’s Top Ten Stories: Airborne soldiers make history

8 — 2020’s Top Ten Stories: What kit does an Apache Pilot carry?

7 — 2020’s Top Ten Stories: 5 things to know about the Poseidon

6 — 2020’s Top Ten Stories: a couple on the frontline

5 — 2020’s Top Ten Stories: Military Aid to Civil Authorities (MACA)

4 — 2020’s Top Ten Stories: Poseidon protects UK waters against Russian warship

3 — 2020’s Top Ten Stories: Better to die than be a coward

“I’m the Royal Engineer’s first female Squadron Sergeant Major and a single mum.”

Deployed to Liverpool for COVID-19 testing, Squadron Sergeant Major Read has had an impressive 21-year career.

The squadron should have been abroad this year. But instead, they’re protecting their country from closer to home.

For the past two weeks (November), Squadron Sergeant Major Read has been overseeing her squadron’s work on Liverpool’s COVID-19 testing sites.

They’re handing out tests in 6 different schools on rotation.

Squadron Sergeant Major Read

“The pandemic has dampened a lot of our deployments, so we’re grateful to still be able to team together and do something important.

The Engineers never fail to amaze me — whatever task they get given. The guys were trained on how to build the testing site and they rolled out so quickly. The speed at which they can put up the sites themselves and give the tests is so impressive.”

21 years ago, Lucy Read was only the fifth woman to join the Royal Engineers.

But she has since become their first female Squadron Sergeant Major.

Her son Charlie, 13, is incredibly proud of her. She says being one of few women was daunting at first, but was a huge motivator in working hard and proving herself.

Now, there are around 70 women in the corps, and she wants those considering applying to know there are a wide variety of roles in the Royal Engineers.

Being a single mum has been her toughest challenge in the Army, but her employer has been hugely supportive. For example, paying her son’s boarding school fees while she is on deployment.

It’s hard being in the same country as her son but unable to visit on weekends due to the pandemic.

They still facetime every day, and she’s great friends with Charlie’s father — a Paralympian veteran, who lost his lower limbs in Afghanistan and has since won gold representing his country in weightlifting in multiple competitions.

“You can be a mum and be in the Army. It shouldn’t put somebody off who wants to join the Army.”

Squadron Sergeant Major Read

Find out where else the UK Armed Forces are deployed here 👇

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