Born on the Isle of Bute in 1951 I was one of five children. At 15 I decided to leave school and worked in the catering industry in Rothesay for two years. Now, as someone who was born there, I feel safe in saying everyone thinks the Isle of Bute is beautiful. It is, but there is nothing there. I yearned for something different. At 17 I hopped over to the nearest Army Recruiting Office on the mainland. There I signed up to the Army Catering Corps.

After my training I headed to the BAOR (British Army of the Rhine) in Germany. I viewed my role as a chef as keeping the soldiers in good spirits through food, I loved it. We were catering for a mixture of British, Dutch, German and Belgium soldiers from about six different Armies. I started to get a reputation for my cakes. I love baking and being creative! I was busy baking wedding cakes and catering for everyone’s sweet tooth.

“I knew there was a chance I would be posted to Northern Ireland. Knowing didn’t make it any less frightening”

Five years past and I was relocated to Catterick and the Royal Corps Transport 60 Squadron. It wasn’t as diverse a posting as the BAOR, I was part of a smaller team of twelve catering for fewer soldiers. Later I was sent to Ripon, Yorkshire. That’s when it hit me - there was a chance I could go to Northern Ireland.

Although I was in a “non-threating” role as a chef, you don’t forget you’re in the Army. The threat of being
given orders to go on the front line is always in the back of your mind.

I saw two tours of Northern Ireland. I was sent out on manoeuvres to give the regular soldiers a rest. Being front line service was nerve-wracking to say the least. I came home physically uninjured but the experience left its mark on me.

I am very lucky to have had a great career – the good times outweighed any bad times and I’m now enjoying being here in Erskine being cared for by such a dedicated team of people!