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From beauty and massage therapist to soldier

By the tender age of 18, Harriet had her own successful business employing two fellow therapists.

Having worked in the beauty industry since the age of 16, she had also earned up to $2,000 dollars a week on a cruise ship.

Yet none of this was enough for the now 21-year-old. She craved variety, adventure and an outdoor lifestyle.

Airtrooper Harriet, who completes her Initial Trade Training next week is giving it all up for a career in the Army, joining as a signaller with the Army Air Corps.

"I wanted a combat role, working with attack helicopters, supporting the front-line troops and medics and providing humanitarian aid.

“The Army Air Corps also offers different qualifications like degrees in engineering and management which are good for future civilian life.”

After initially wanting to become ground crew, responsible for getting helicopters in the air and providing protection for them on the ground, moving, refuelling and rearming, Harriet decided to choose the Signals path. 

This involves providing battle-winning communications and gaining expertise in engineering and operating systems, networks and cyber equipment.

I always want more from life. This offers lots of qualifications and benefits and allows me to challenge myself.

Harriet said: “I did make very good money and was able to travel but I was just doing the same thing every day. It was very repetitive and I couldn’t learn much else. I’m also very into sports and fitness and I didn’t get time to do that because of the long hours.”

Despite having no family history of being in the forces, her interest was piqued by what it can offer and the challenges provided.

“I saw a lot of adverts for the Army, the different roles, there’s something for all people and you get to work outside and travel,” she said.

“I grew up with brothers and around boys which has always motivated me to show that anything they can do, so can I. It’s just my personality.”

One of five females out of 200 going through training together, Harriet, from Hereford, says she competes with the men but is very much treated as an equal by them.

The Army now very much has gender equality. You’re never told you can’t do something and are treated fairly.

“I’m quite tall but some of the girls are small and if they’re struggling with their tabbing because of their stride length and the weight of the kit, they get lots of support.” 

Harriet allowed the lease on her business premises to run out in May so she could throw herself wholeheartedly into her new career and is ambitious to get the most she can out of the experience.

She said: “I want to do the full 24 years and get to as high a rank as possible.

“I’ve already learned so much; how to handle a rifle, map reading, close-quarters battle, target shooting, exercise preparation for future deployments, field administration. If you need additional licences, the Army pays for them, plus courses and sport. 

“I’m just at the start and am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.”