As Anita captures her portrait of the first woman to be made New College commander, the first ever mixed platoon graduates from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. How’s about that for timing?
Friday 11th December was a fitting day to photograph First Woman #88; Lieutenant Colonel Lucy Giles, Sandhurst’s first ever female to lead New College since 1946. On that day, the opportunity for some extraordinary documentary photographs was also presented – as six mixed male and female platoons passed out from the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst for the first time ever in history.
The ‘integrated platoon’ comes as the Army strives to encourage more women to join. The First Women project has now photographed five ‘firsts’ within the forces and have five planned for next year – including Brigadier Sharon Nesmith; the first female commander of 5,000 frontline soldiers.
Up until now, potential women officers at Sandhurst would be in an all-female platoon. However, this new, integrated approach has seen Officer Cadets living together, training, and carrying out military exercises together for the past 44 weeks.
This passing out ceremony, overseen by (Prince Charles himself) marked the completion of nearly a year’s worth of intensive military and academic training, combined with adventurous training and sporting challenges.
Lieutenant Colonel Giles, said: “[This] marks a historic day for Sandhurst and for all those junior officers…This graduation demonstrates the Army’s intention to increase talent and diversity, and to train together as we are likely to be employed in barracks and on operations. The Army is always looking for its next generation of leaders…“Women …get the same high standard of training and are on the same pay scale as their male equivalent.’
For Anita the day was a brilliant opportunity to record this important change:
‘Seeing the men and women moving together as one body, in one platoon – was incredibly powerful.
‘To see confident women amongst their male counterparts taking their deserved place as equals in training and experience, was a great symbol of a level playing field. It was a privilege to be there documenting that auspicious day.’