DRM in Defence - Squadron Leader Sherry McBain

Saturday June 30, 2018

Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your job?

I am based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire and I fulfil the role of Officer Commanding the Operations Squadron at Tactical Medical Wing. The Sqn is made up of RAF Nurses, Paramedics, Medics and Medical Support Officers. We are a team of 37 rapidly deployable personnel providing a Role 1 capability in support of Non-combatant Evacuation Operations and the initial medical footprint in new theatres of operation. The Squadron have specially trained Emergency Nurses and Paramedics who augment a Medical Emergency Response Team in the operational environment. There is also personnel on-call for Critical Care Air Support Team and routine Strategic and Tactical aeromedical evacuation, as well as supplementing the air transportable isolator team. The Squadron also provides the medical cover for exercises both in the UK and overseas, ranging from Drop-Zone cover and live-firing exercises to Jungle, Desert and Winter SERE courses. In conjunction the tasking cell component of the Sqn conduct the operational deployment planning as directed by our higher Headquarters and is devoted to providing RAF medical assets (Personnel & equipment) to operations and Exercises around the world.

I am a 38 year old married gay woman who has been in the RAF for 21 years serving in the ranks and eventually I commissioned in 2008. I have a Master’s degree in Advanced Practice in Neuroscience Nursing. My wife, Mandy and I have recently given birth to our son Harrison and are thrilled to have achieved our dreams of becoming parents. I am also the Co-Chair of the RAF LGBT+ FREEDOM Network and have been a member since 2010.

Did you have any role models growing up?

My mum was a great composite role model, she worked hard bringing up three children and working as a deputy matron of a nursing home. My uncle was also a great role model, he was a submariner and my love for the military is likely a consequence of his influence. Looking back my P.E teacher was a huge inspiration to me in my latter teens, I didn’t know I was gay then but I admired her greatly. 

How important do you think it is to have visible role models within the workplace?

I have no senior OUT lesbian role models in the RAF - this is a shame as I believe in the saying ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. But alternatively it has made me more driven and determined to succeed and lead the way. I have some incredibly role models around me in various roles across the MOD and I am very grateful to all of them for inspiring me.

I plan to always stand up and be counted to ensure that those coming up behind me see me and I hope that it inspires them to achieve their ambitions. I have some superb female and male role models and their role is critical, visibility helps rid an organisation of ignorance, it helps make the work place more accepting because diversity becomes normalised. ‘’Seeing is believing!!’’

What are you most proud of?

My wife Mandy – she is inspirational and I am a very lucky woman!

Our little miracle man he completes us. Harrison is more than I ever hoped for … he surprises and astounds us every day – I love watching him develop and achieve his milestones. I love being a mum and have so many hopes for our little miracle man … I hope he grows up learning the importance of diversity and inclusion.

On a personal level – one of my proudest moments was leading the RAF contingent at London Pride. What an honour and a privilege. 

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

Believe in your own ability! 

What is on your bookshelf?

Confessions of the Other Mother by Harlyn Aizley

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Sky Wards by Mary Mackie

True Colours by Caroline Paige

What is on your bucket list?

See the Northern Lights

Take Harrison to Lapland to see Father Christmas

Sky Dive in New Zealand

So what do you do for fun?

Fight for LGBT+ equality

Spend time with good friends

Travel

Check out nice restaurants and indulge in nice wines.

Try and do something that scares me at least once on holiday

Dinner Party: Who would you invite?

Emmeline Pankhurst, My deceased grandfather, Prince Harry, Peter Kay, Winston Churchill, and Nelson Mandela

How would you describe yourself in FIVE words?

Loyal, Kind-hearted, Passionate, Clumsy and Enthusiastic.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

My favourite saying:

‘Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain’.

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