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Volunteer Voices8th March 2022

IWD: Terri’s Story

In our series for International Women’s Day, find out how our volunteers #InspireInclusion.

Terri’s Story

15 years ago, I stepped into The Dockyard for the first time to have a fun evening on a ghost tour. I fell in love with the place because I asked for a job! I had to wait two years until I was 17 years old and on my first day, I was a pirate for a children’s activity event. I worked mainly as a tour guide but experienced other departments too.

Ever since I’ve been tied to the ‘yard in one way or another.

At 20, I went to a games night hosted in the Chargeman’s and fell in love. Little did I know then, that 10 years later I would be writing a blog about the importance of The Dockyard in my life whilst sitting in our garden on a sunny afternoon with two dogs at my feet and having been married to that very man for 5 years. We married on a beautiful September day at Upnor Castle and had our reception in Commissioner’s House. So, to say The Historic Dockyard Chatham means a lot to me is an understatement.

Whilst at school, I was part of the Young Engineers and took part in two competitions where we stayed at HMS Bristol in Portsmouth Dockyard. Afterwards, my engineering side disappeared a little. Whilst being cooped up inside during the 2020 Lockdowns, I realised that I wanted a more hands-on hobby with some fresh air.

Despite knowing the Dockyard so well, my first day volunteering was a little scary. Volunteering in an industry that is dominated by men, I knew that I needed to work harder than the others. I needed to show that I was strong, disciplined, and ballsy enough to make quick decisions on the engine. Being on the railway is fun but we’re preserving and conserving tons of moving metal so you have to be on guard and observant.

Turns out all that worrying wasn’t necessary. I stepped in and was hard-working, filled with banter and a passion for what we were there for. Finding my place as a new training female shunter was not always easy but banding together with the crew and supporting each other to make a better railway.

I am proud to become the first qualified female diesel driver on The Historic Dockyard Chatham’s railway. Other women came before and some passed the Shunter and Driver’s Assistant assessment. It is a privilege to go that step further and be a part of the community promoting equality.

Initially, I volunteered to help fix and preserve the railway locos and wagons. This changed soon after my first run on the footplate – I was hooked! It inspired me to learn everything, gain confidence, and show that no matter your gender, you are capable of whatever you want to achieve.

My advice to anyone looking to go into an industry they are intimidated by; is to take a deep breath, shoulders back, and hold your chin up high. You deserve to be there as much as anyone else and if they can’t see your worth, make them.

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