International Women's Week with Karen McKay WRO 1(T) (Rtd)

March 12, 2021

Karen was just 18 when she joined the Royal Naval Reserves as a WRO 1(T) Reservist. She gave eight years of service, and was one of the first Wrens that could go to sea. As part of our #choosetochallenge campaign this week, Karen has shared her story with us.

“The Reserve bases had their own minesweepers MCM10 which we took to sea at weekends and fortnights each year. HMS Helford was attached to HMS Caroline RNR Ulster Division and I sailed on her for weekends training exercises to Campbeltown, Troon, Ayr, and the Isle of Man. I also sailed with her to and from her maintenance periods in Plymouth and during fortnight Training Exercises to Amsterdam and Nantes.

“I've also spent time at HMS Mercury, HMS Collingwood and HMS Forest Moor for communications training.  When our role changed and we lost our Minesweeper, I was one of the first Reservists to serve with the Regulars for a month, flying to Malta to join HMS Ark Royal in the Mediterranean and Adriatic, and sailed home with her to Portsmouth. This was a fantastic experience as we spent 4 days on the way home in Majorca.”

Karen has shared some brilliant photos with us, and said that her time in the Reserves really improved her confidence: “The skills I learned definitely brought me out of my shell.”

Now Karen is a member of the Royal Naval Association in Belfast, and prior to covid, attended members’ meetings once a month. Karen told us: “The Branch has seen an increase of new members in the last few years and it had been great to catch up with shipmates old and new! The RNA has had a refurbishment in the last year and are looking forward to opening again soon when restrictions are lifted.”

Karen would like to extend an invitation for new members to join, and you can find out more info about the RNA Belfast Branch on this page.­­

Thank you Karen for being part of our International Women’s Day week-long celebration!

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