My Army Story: A tale of courage, travelling and doing what I love

25th November 2017

My Army Story: A tale of courage, travelling and doing what I love

Donna (Dot) is the latest addition to the Forces Family Finance team, and has taken up the role of Office Manager. She is an Army wife and Mum to a boy and a girl. Here’s her family’s military journey…

I met my husband Chris back in 1998 through my work as a swimming teacher. He’s been in the Army for 25 years, so we are very used to military life! We got to know each other as friends, but then began dating in 2000. Our son, Noah, was born in 2002 and we got married in 2003 and moved into our very first married quarters together as a family in Chivenor, Devon.

I loved life in Devon, and became the manager of a leisure centre in Barnstaple. I worked there for 7 years until Chris received a posting order for Paderborn, Germany. We moved there in 2009, whilst I was expecting our daughter, Ettienne. We loved Paderborn as a family, but our adventures there were short, as we had to move back to Chivenor in 2011. I was, however, lucky enough to get my old job at the leisure centre back. We stayed in Devon for 2 more years until Chris was offered the role of RSM for 35 Engineers, so back to Paderborn we went. We had an enjoyable 2 years back in Germany, and as I wasn’t on maternity leave this time around, I worked for the BFG (British Forces Germany) Office, which was fantastic.

Chris’ next challenge, in 2015, was to assume the position of Corps RSM at 1RSME in Brompton, Kent. This move back to the UK also brought a huge challenge for me, as just 10 days after our move, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a devastating blow for me, but Chris was great. We are a very private family, so I chose to deal with it within the confines of our close support network. Following my surgery and treatment, which was thankfully successful, I returned to work as an office admin assistant, and once I had the ‘all clear’ I could also go back to teaching what I loved; swimming. I enjoyed both of these challenges alongside each other – and still do – as now I also get to help military families as well as teach swimming.

As you can probably guess, I love fitness! It helped me through my treatment; just a few weeks after surgery I went out running (when I felt up to it), and just a year after beating cancer I found ‘Team Phoenix’ through a close friend. They help breast cancer survivors with fitness training programmes and with their help, I completed my first triathlon at Heaver Castle in 2016. This year I am currently looking forward to competing in the River Dart 10k.

One of my best and most memorable moments of Army life so far was meeting the Queen when she visited Brompton Barracks for the tercentenary of the Corps of the Royal Engineers. It was very surreal, and she was lovely!

I like our Army life [being a very private family]. We’ve been lucky and have always had good accommodation to live in. I am looking forward to working with Nadine and the rest of the Forces Family Finance team, as I am ready for a new challenge in life.

I know how limiting it can be as a forces family when it comes to getting the right answers to some of life’s big questions. Forces Family Finance provide an excellent service with guidance and support to the serving and retired community, I am really looking forward to becoming a part of all of this.