This International Women’s Day Lowland RFCA is shining the spotlight on Gill Wilkinson, a member of our Board who balances her work as Colonel of the Royal Logistic Corps Reserves with a civilian role in leadership development.
From a young age, Gill showed a keen aptitude for leadership and a natural calling towards military life:
“My school had an Army Cadet Force unit attached to it. A few friends and I were desperate to join but at that point the school unit didn’t allow girls. We lobbied the teachers, pointing out that the application forms asked if you were a boy or girl. We argued that the inference of this question was that you could be a boy or girl and still become a Cadet. Eventually, the teachers gave in and we were allowed to join. So at 15 I became a Cadet and I absolutely loved it. It was because of Cadets that I started to consider a career in the Army, and in my first year at university I decided to apply for selection to be an Army officer.”
After graduating from the University of Dundee, Gill went on to train at Sandhurst before her first posting to Germany. This was followed by an operational tour of Northern Ireland and deployment to the Balkans, with opportunities to learn exciting new skills such as sailing, diving and bobsledding along the way.
After the birth of her first child, Gill stepped down from Regular Army service, but she didn’t stay away for long. While living in Northern Ireland where her husband was stationed, she found an opening for an experienced Reservist at the local Royal Logistic Corps regiment. By the time Gill’s transition from Regular to Reserve was completed, baby number two had arrived.
“I often joke that I left the Regulars to spend time with my first baby, and I joined the Reserves to get away from my second! As a young mum, that first weekend away with the Reserves was so exciting because I had the chance to speak to grown-ups and to finish a sentence, a rare occurrence with little ones in the house.”
While currently based at the Royal Logistic Corps in Worthy Down near Winchester, Gill is an active member of the Lowland Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association, having experienced RFCA support first-hand during her own Cadet days:
“I’m really excited about Lowland’s involvement with the Cadets: the investment in Cadet facilities, the curriculum for qualifications and also the prospect and opportunities that Cadets have within the Armed Forces. There are actually so many scholarships and bursaries available to Cadets that would help them to get through university. When I worked in my last appointment at Sandhurst I tried to change the way that these scholarships were awarded. At that point, often it was military kids who tended to know about them, which meant they tended to be the majority of people who applied for them. I was very keen though that Cadets were made aware of these scholarships, given that they had already proved their commitment. It’s exciting to think that the Armed Forces can give Cadets opportunities that they might otherwise not have access to!”
Undeniably, Gill’s journey from Cadet to Army officer to mother to Reservist, with all of the great adventures and achievements that has brought, are nothing short of inspirational to any young women or men who wish to pursue a career in the Armed Forces:
“The Army Reserve has allowed me to continue to serve in the military yet maintain some flexibility to balance a civilian and family life. Although I can’t claim to have always got that balance right, that has simply been because I’ve found it hard to turn down the opportunities, challenges and adventures which each of those aspects of my life have offered.”