I’m sitting at the final event of 2019, the RADA ‘Take the Stage’ Masterclass, trying to concentrate amid the incredible buzz in the room. How can 35 individuals who only met 10 minutes ago make so much noise?! Easy – they’re incredibly excited to be part of the outstanding development offered by the RADA Business Tutors. RADA Business has been a theme for Women in Defence this year. If you haven’t yet seen the Women in Defence ‘cover’ of Katy Perry’s ROAR, courtesy of Tom Wakeley, shame on you! Watch it here; I still get goose bumps when I listen to the Shortlist Conference attendees singing their hearts out.
It was a bumper year for the Awards. We moved venue to the magnificent Guildhall in London. 350 individuals from across Defence sat down to Dinner, expertly compered by Liz Bonnin, to see the 2019 Category Winners and Woman of the Year announced. Watch Phillippa’s face as her name is read out. To be selected to be Woman of the Year from over 470 nominations is no mean feat, and very well deserved.
Our 2018 Woman of the Year shared her return to health from struggles with PTSD at an inspiring briefing event in November. If you get the chance to hear Michelle Partington speak – grab it, it was a memorable, heart-rending and uplifting evening.
We also found time to hold an International Panel event at DSEI, with representatives from the Australian, New Zealand and UK Armed Forces and Defence Industry discussing the challenge ‘If your country were to pledge 10 million pounds/dollars to help women break-through in defence, what is the one area you would fix and why?’ This was followed immediately by the launch of the Women in Defence Charter, a collaboration between the MOD, Defence Industry and Women in Defence UK. As I write, 43 organisations, ranging from the MOD and single Services to major defence primes, have become signatories.
We’ve tried to up our game on social media this year, speaking through gifs and memes. We set and smashed ambitious targets for the number of impressions on the night of the Awards Dinner, up from 1.1 million in 2018 to 4.2 million in 2019. An impression is similar to newspaper readership. How on earth did women who work in defence of the Nation manage to reach so many people in one day??!!
And we’ve had the immense privilege of working with special people who care; on the Governing Body, our partners, our supporters and followers, the Women in Defence Team and Leadership Team. They all exemplify our motto for 2019 – ‘Deeds not Words’.
To everyone we’ve touched, or who has touched us – thank you for 2019. Don’t forget to check out our events for 2020 but in the meantime, have a relaxing or fun Christmas and a peaceful New Year. To use a toast from my Isle of Man homeland:
Slaynt as shee as eash dy vea, as maynys son du bra ………… which translates as
HEALTH AND PEACE AND LENGTH OF DAYS AND HAPPINESS FOR EVER.