In 1996, 17-year-old Diana Worthington from Staffordshire had decided that she wanted to join the British Army. But, instead of going to the Army Careers Office, she took a different route and headed for Rolleston College, Burton on Trent and enrolled on a Uniformed Public Services course for young people.
Di, as she is known to all, explains:
“The course helps people towards improving their fitness for the requirements of the organisation they’re looking to join. Part of the curriculum gets you to fully research all services, work on interview techniques and confidence building both as an individual and as a team.”
And she adds:
“Whilst on the course, I also attended a military training camp and this cemented my decision to join the Army.”
Available at colleges throughout the UK, a Uniformed Public Services course provides young people with a strong skills and knowledge base, allowing them to enter a uniformed service, such as the fire service, paramedics, police, or armed forces with an insight and confidence.
One of the biggest changes must be the continual improvement of diversity and inclusion with the embracing of LGBTQI within Defence. Another key change was all roles being opened to women Major Diana Worthington
Before the Army, Di worked in factories and had agency jobs but on completion of the course and the selection process, Di’s British Army career was about to get underway.
In January 1997, and with initial training accomplished, she joined the Royal Logistic Corps, the goal being to get her Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) licence and take up a trade as an Army Driver.
Now, more than 27 years since she enlisted, Acting Major Diana Worthington is based in Aldershot and works at Home Command, working in Infrastructure and Sustainability. At present she is on a six-month attachment to a different area:
“I am currently with Standing Joint Command (SJC) and my role is Staff Officer 2 (SO2) Organisation and Deployments. I’m the principal desk officer responsible for managing the Operational Force Generation for all HQ SJC (UK) Resilience Operations."
This temporary role is vital at times when the country’s civilian authorities need military support as was seen during the pandemic.
But going back to her normal role she adds:
“No two days are the same. I can be in a meeting with generals and senior commanders discussing budget spending priorities or attending a seminar about climate change and how the Army can work towards net zero targets. This is the beauty of being in the Army, there is always the opportunity to try new things.”
And the last 12 months has been a busy time for her too:
“This year alone I have been skiing in France, taken part in the Five Power Defence Arrangement Exercise in Malaysia, attended Defence courses in sustainability, been involved with Army Expo, and been on the Defence Resilience course in SJC."
Born and raised in the market town of Burton upon Trent, Di attended Paget High School in neighbouring Branston. Sport was her main interest and something she excelled at.
As Di explains, over the past 20 years in the Army, her main sporting focus has been on a very demanding and competitive sport. A sport that requires navigational and map reading skills combined with the ability to travel across unfamiliar terrain:
“One of my old admin officers was passionate about orienteering and encouraged me to get involved. I went a few times and just caught the bug. Now, it’s my main sport, and I will be taking part in the World Masters in Slovakia in August.”
Di has also competed at differing levels in various other sports including modern pentathlon, boxing, fencing, swimming, skiing, netball, sailing, hockey, and basketball. And has also done an accelerated free fall skydiving course.
After almost three decades in the Army, Di highlights the significant changes she has seen since joining in 1996:
“One of the biggest must be the continual improvement of diversity and inclusion with the embracing of LGBTQI within Defence. Another key change was all roles being opened to women.”
And something that sticks out in the mind that surprised her about life in the Army:
“It’s not the aggressive shouty environment that you expect, it’s a family you will have for life.
It’s not the aggressive shouty environment that you expect, it’s a family you will have for life Major Diana Worthington
"The qualifications you can achieve, the opportunities and life experience available cannot be matched, it is totally life changing.”
As the recruitment advert used to say, ‘Join the Army and see the world.’ A phrase that Di fully endorses:
“I was one of a small team managing the civilian vehicle fleet in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan during Operation Herrick. I also spent time in Northern Ireland and worked on the Falls Road and in central Belfast reacting to Bomb disposal call outs.
“Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many countries, including Malaysia, Australia, Cyprus, Germany, Gibraltar, Egypt, Kenya, and Malawi.”
Trying to break down barriers and change old mindsets has been one of the main challenges Di has aimed to address over the years, but without a doubt the biggest challenge for her has been bringing up a family whilst pursuing her military career. She has four children, Leigha (22) Maddox (16) Deacon (15) and stepdaughter Isabella (15):
“I think in any profession there is a certain amount of pragmatism when having a family, you will miss interesting and fun opportunities or postings because you need to prioritise family. This is the same for any parent. I think the key to balancing work and family life is having a good support network and friendship group.”
“When I deployed to Afghanistan ‘Aunty Bev’ would take my boys to McDonald’s to give their granny a rest, ‘Aunty Trish’ would collect my daughter from boarding school. My kids are more enriched by the people who have helped me and the opportunities they have been given.”
Among her many career highlights to date, Di picks boxing for her squadron, attending the Queen’s Royal Garden Party, her Full Soldier service, and an emotional meeting that she had with a lady who had fled North Korea:
“Hearing from a person in their own words, telling of the struggle they had trying to flee unimaginable conditions really makes me grateful for the opportunities I have now and have had over the years. Just standing there listening humbles you.”
Di has come a long way since getting that HGV licence. She is now looking to the future and would like to work in a capability field, trialling equipment for the future soldier.
“Never think the Army is not for you,” says Di, “There is something for everyone and you will build lasting friendships.”
The British Army is recruiting right now to fill 10,000 jobs across the UK with more than 200 roles to choose from, covering everything from frontline combat and cyber security to helicopter pilots, chefs, and support roles. If you’re aged 16 to 50, and if you want to find out more about a career in the Army, click here: British Army