With the British Army accepting women into ground close combat roles, clearly a step change in the provision of training was going to be required and it was to WO2 Sheridan Lucas that the centre turned to help with its introduction. Sheridan was on hand throughout the first days of women training to become infantry soldiers to ensure that the integration went smoothly and that any young females had someone they could approach with any concerns.
As Sheridan explained, “I suppose every sergeant major is a bit of an agony aunt. Every single recruit regardless of gender is going to struggle at some point; the training is something very different and it offers new challenges. The only difference you have when a young lady goes through is that there is less of them. In that world where there are many males who can turn to each other to talk about shared concerns and issues there are less females, so it is just finding that balance and it is really key to have that bond.”
“As the Army advances forwards, we have to realise the dynamics are different, so even though they (young female infantry recruits) needed me as that sort of go-to for advice and for a voice of experience gradually that will become a normal practice" Warrant Officer Class 2 Sheridan Lucas
“If a male Sergeant Major was in my role at that time would a young recruit come and approach them who was female? Probably not when they are first starting out, so I had to adapt my role and my ability around what their requirements were.”
“I was very lucky to see the first girls; having taken them through their training and watch them pass off on that parade square, that was an honour to have seen that happen, history in the making.”
“As the Army advances forwards, we have to realise the dynamics are different, so even though they (young female infantry recruits) needed me as that sort of go-to for advice and for a voice of experience gradually that will become a normal practice. I was double hatting a couple of roles to make sure it worked.”
Speaking of her reactions on being told she had been awarded the MBE Sheridan said, “It was one of the Colonels who called us all into his office and the instruction was that the whole team was to report to his office. I was thinking. who I have spoken out on turn to today or have I tapped out a dodgy email? When he actually said you’ve been awarded an MBE is takes a while for it to sink in. I was questioning myself have I done enough to deserve an MBE; it’s certainly nothing I’ve ever thought I’d be awarded – it really took me back and by surprise, but over the moon about it.