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RAF Regiment welcomes first female gunner

PUBLISHED: 10:13 24 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:12 24 January 2020

LAC Sandover  is the first female member of the RAF Regiment since the government relaxed the ban on women serving in frontline military roles. Picture: CPL DAVE BLACKBURN

LAC Sandover is the first female member of the RAF Regiment since the government relaxed the ban on women serving in frontline military roles. Picture: CPL DAVE BLACKBURN

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The first female member of the Royal Air Force Regiment has passed out from basic training at her Suffolk base.

Leading Aircraftsman Georgia Sandover, the RAF Regiment's first female gunner. Picture: CPL DAVE BLACKBURNLeading Aircraftsman Georgia Sandover, the RAF Regiment's first female gunner. Picture: CPL DAVE BLACKBURN

Leading Aircraftman Georgia Sandover was one of 18 gunners to successfully complete Phase 2 training at RAF Honington.

The 18-year-old, from King's Lynn, joined her colleagues in a parade in front of their families and senior officers at the base on Thursday, January 23.

Georgia said she always wanted to join one of the services and while attending the College of West Anglia completed the Uniformed Services Course where she was inspired by one of her teachers, who happened to be ex-RAF Regiment, to join.

She said: "I am really proud and thrilled that all of us on the course have graduated.

LAC Georgia Sandover on parade with colleagues from TG 3-19 Meiktila Flight during the graduation parade at RAF Honington. Picture: SAC JAMIE LEDGERLAC Georgia Sandover on parade with colleagues from TG 3-19 Meiktila Flight during the graduation parade at RAF Honington. Picture: SAC JAMIE LEDGER

"We have all supported one another from beginning to end and without that support we wouldn't be here today.

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"I am looking forward to my posting and can't wait to get on with my new job. To anyone that is thinking of joining the RAF Regiment, male or female, I say: 'Don't be afraid to give it a go'."

The RAF Regiment operates as an infantry force to protect air bases and RAF Honington, near Bury St Edmunds, is its training depot.

LAC Georgia Sandover celebrates with her family after the graduation ceremony at RAF Honington. Picture: SAC JAMIE LEDGERLAC Georgia Sandover celebrates with her family after the graduation ceremony at RAF Honington. Picture: SAC JAMIE LEDGER

During the course Georgia and her fellow recruits learned basic combat tactics, advanced fieldcraft skills and completed several live fire training packages alongside a demanding physical training programme designed to build up their strength and fitness.

Following their passing out they have earned the right to wear the RAF Regiment shoulder-badge, known informally as 'mudguards', and will now be posted to one of the RAF Regiment's field squadrons where they will begin training for contingency operations.

The RAF was the first of the armed services to open all branches and trades to women following the government lifting the ban on women serving in infantry combat roles in July 2016.

Roles in the RAF Regiment were opened to women on September 1 2017.

LAC Georgia Sandover recieves her RAF Regiment 'mudguards' and stable belt from RAF Honington station commander Group Captain Matt Radnall. Picture: SAC JAMIE LEDGERLAC Georgia Sandover recieves her RAF Regiment 'mudguards' and stable belt from RAF Honington station commander Group Captain Matt Radnall. Picture: SAC JAMIE LEDGER

The Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, secretary of state for defence said: "My congratulations to all those graduating which includes the first female regular serving RAF gunner.

"The RAF Regiment will benefit from increased diversity and I wish Georgia and all her colleagues the very best for the future."

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