When Lieutenant Colonel Lyndsey Kelly took command of No1 Army Training Regiment (1ATR) at the Army Training Centre in Pirbright, not only did she become the first female officer to do so, but somewhat uniquely she assumed command from her husband, Lieutenant Colonel Shamus Kelly OBE.
This first for the Army highlights the strides it has taken to reach out to married couples who are both serving. Acknowledging the growing number of uniformed couples in its ranks and the far wider opportunities now open to women, the Army is managing the careers of couples rather than two individuals.
“I love to be able to shape and influence the recruits, the next generation of our Army, but I also love working with such motivated people.” Lieutenant Colonel Lyndsey Kelly
Shamus met Lyndsey back in 2010 whilst they were both attending the same staff education course held at the Defence Academy at Shrivenham. When asked ‘was it love at first sight?’ Shamus replied “If you see how officers dress, it’s hard to imagine love a first sight when you are wearing uncomfortable barrack dress and an oversized jumper!” They got to know each other during the course and that’s where it blossomed from.
Their first date was probably as equally unromantic as their uniforms as Shamus went on to explain. “It was a very, very extravagant first date – I took Lyndsey to the local McDonalds! We didn’t know which way the relationship was going to go, and we’d both been to a function the night before so were a little jaded. I said let’s go for something to eat and a Happy Meal seemed to be the order of the day.” Lyndsey commented, “the golden arches were definitely calling and I had to drive there on account of a bit of car envy on Shamus’s part.” Little did they know at the time they’d one day be substituting those golden arches for golden rings
The couple have been married for eight years and have two children Alex (7) and William (4). Shamus will move to command the Headquarters Regiment on the same site, the Army Training Centre, Pirbright. Does that mean they will be effectively at work constantly, and how will they balance work with married life? Lyndsey explained, “The children are perfect for reminding us on a daily basis that we need to finish being Lt Cols Kelly and Kelly and start being mum and dad. Our time with them is so precious, even our seven-year-old will now berate us if we take a work call at home. We have to be pretty strict about not taking issues home our focus when we go through the front door is our two boys and we need to be quite disciplined about that.
And with a sense of reverse to this, both lieutenant colonels emphasised they’d not be bringing any home life attributes into the workplace; definitely no open displays of affection between the two of them. There are strict boundaries in place when it comes to relationships which everyone has to observe from recruit to commanding officer.
Taking command of 1ATR, Lyndsey will be charged with the responsibility of transforming civilians into basic trained soldiers, with up to 500+ recruits going through training at an any one time. These are young men and women, some of whom will be coming straight from school, and all with little or no experience of service life whatsoever. The 14-week Basic Training programme teaches the recruits about the structure of the British Army, how to live and operate in the field as soldiers. It builds their physical and mental robustness through a progressive and challenging development programme. But most importantly, it focuses on developing their character and immersing them in the British Army’s Values & Standards – critical to ensure that our people always do what’s right, even under the most testing circumstances.
Lyndsey has been in a training role before and that is why that is why this was her preference to take command of a training regiment. “I love to be able to shape and influence the recruits, the next generation of our Army, but I also love working with such motivated people.”