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Celebrating our female colleagues this International Women’s Day

03 Mar

International Women’s Day 2021 has arrived, under the global theme, #ChooseToChallenge. This year, we’re doing just that. Every year we’ve enjoyed hearing stories from women around the globe speak about their triumphs and challenges. We thought we’d share a few stories of our own from our colleagues at Travis Perkins, challenging gender stereotypes and expectations in typically male-dominated industries. Here, Maria Walding and Lynn Gerrard each have their own inspiring stories to tell about their involvement with the Armed Forces.

Maria Walding – Business Process Manager & Certified Auditor, Travis Perkins

Armed Forces female personnel saluting cenotaph

Can you share a little bit about your involvement with the Armed Forces?

I’m in the Army Cadet Force (ACF), a volunteer youth organisation sponsored by the MOD, which provides young people with military and community skills. It's a large organisation with a history dating back to the 1850s, and I’ve been involved for over 25 years - it’s been a big part of my life. 

What made you decide to get involved in this volunteering?

My dad was in the ACF, and when I was younger, I saw him in his uniform going on training weekends and evenings. So when I turned 12 years old, I was finally old enough and didn’t hesitate to join. After my 19th birthday, I became an adult volunteer - an Officer Commanding officially - because I realised how much the organisation helps young people. 

How can we get more women involved in the Armed Forces?

Considering that the ACF only welcomed women to join 40 years ago, I think the organisation has done really well to encourage more women to get involved. During my time, lots of female cadets have moved into senior roles, and that's really important for the younger female cadets to see.

Are there any skills you’ve learnt as an Officer Commanding that you use in your job?

I left school before my A-levels, so I earnt all my major qualifications during my time in the cadets. The ACF has taught me so much about leadership and management, and this experience has helped me gain the confidence to move into more senior roles over the last 15 years working with the Group.

Would you recommend Travis Perkins as a place to work for ex-Armed Forces personnel?

Yes, definitely! The structure of the Travis Perkins Group, the teamwork and the opportunities to progress into managerial roles are all very similar to the Armed Forces. I’ve seen first-hand the sense of camaraderie in branches and stores, and that’s a team environment that a lot of people struggle to find after leaving the Forces. Not to mention all the transferrable skills you can apply to a job within the Group.


Lynn Gerrard– Credit Controller, Keyline

Armed Forces female personnel in uniform

Can you share a little bit about your experience in the Armed Forces?

I went for the Army selection process in 1991 and was successfully picked. Initially, I was based in Guildford, where I trained on weapons, Nuclear, Biological & Chemical warfare, map reading and first aid. After that, I moved onto artillery training at Woolwich, and I was one of the first females in the Army to join the Royal Artillery. After my training, I was posted to 32nd Regiment R.A, based in Dortmund, Germany, where I sat my Combat Medical First Aid Course and Signals R.A Course. Following that, I was transferred to Salisbury, and I got my Tracked Vehicle Licence so I could drive the tracked vehicles. The Regiment was then deployed to Ireland and I remained in Larkhill where I spent this time at the medical centre, treating soldiers and their families. That was my final role in the Armed Forces before I signed off.

What made you decide to enrol?

I was only 20 years old, and I was looking for something different. It wasn’t something that I always wanted to do, but I’m so glad I did because it’s a great place to begin a career, and the opportunities are there for the taking.

How can we get more women involved in the Armed Forces?

It’s important that the media showcases the different roles that are available. What’s more, it needs to be communicated that every opportunity is open to all genders. The Forces offer equal pay and equal opportunities, so women need to be reminded of this and shown that they can be anything.

Are there any skills you’ve learnt in the Forces that you use in your job?

There are lots - teamwork, being proactive, understanding the chain of command and company structure. Thankfully, I've never had to use my medical and first aid training at Travis Perkins, but it’s essential to have someone in the workplace with that knowledge.

Would you recommend Travis Perkins as a place to work for ex-Armed Forces personnel?

Yes, I would totally recommend it. The cornerstones and the culture where everyone strives to be the best are very similar to the British Armed Forces.

Why International Women’s Day is important to us

Whether it’s Maria following in her father’s footsteps, or Lynn becoming one of the first females to join the Royal Artillery, we think both colleagues are great role models for the next generation. Their empowering stories can help young girls gain the confidence to strive for gender equality and #ChooseToChallenge.

As well as celebrating women who have made an extraordinary contribution to their communities and countries, International Women’s Day is a time to call for change. At Travis Perkins, we’re challenging ourselves, our colleagues and our peers on the behaviours, the imperfections and the gendered imbalance that still exists within our industry. We hope to ensure all of our colleagues, and future colleagues, feel safe, valued, included and welcomed, irrespective of difference, within their role here in the TP family.

This International Women’s Day, we’re extremely honoured to share stories of our female colleagues who have supported the Armed Forces community. You can find out more about how we support service leaders and the opportunities that Travis Perkins offers to ex-Armed Forces personnel, no matter their gender.

If you're interested in getting involved, you can register as a volunteer with the Army Cadet Force.

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