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Yorkshire soldiers celebrate International Women's Day

Yorkshire soldiers celebrate International Women's Day

Published at 8:03am 8th March 2016. (Updated at 3:10pm 8th March 2016)

Three Yorkshire-based female soldiers are celebrating International Women’s Day, describing the British Army as a "progressive" place of work. 

The women have also been talking about their experiences of performing a variety of roles.

Lieutenant Sophie Simmons, 25, joined the Army two years ago and is now a Medical Support Officer.

Sophie said: "There are a lot of stereotypes about the armed forces - many of them are quite old-fashioned. But I’ve found it a great place to work and very progressive.

"It's personality-driven, people take you for you. If you are a person who gets on with things, then you can do well here."

Sophie found herself at a crossroads after graduating from the University of Sheffield.

She fulfilled a lifelong dream by joining the Army and is now part of 5 Armoured Medical Regiment based at Catterick.

Sophie, originally from London but now living in Walkley, Sheffield, said: "I was working in a pub, I was having a good time and the people were great, but I didn’t see it as a career.

"I've always fancied joining the Army, so I thought I might as well do it now before I’m old and haggard.

"It's nice to do a job which isn’t just 9-to-5."

Captain Rachel Oxley, 28, originally from Bingley, Bradford, knew she wanted to be in the Army from an early age.

She was supported through sixth form on the Army Officer Scholarship Scheme.

Rachel, who now lives in York, said: "When I was eight or nine, I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to be in the Army.

"When I was doing my GCSEs, I went into the local careers office, and because of my education record, they pointed me down the scholarship route."

Rachel, who is now with 21 Engineer Regiment, based at Claro Barracks in Ripon, says she's encountered very little sexism in the Army.

She added: "You get the occasional person who doesn’t think before they speak and they often backtrack afterwards, but generally it's been pretty good."

Sophie and Rachel were both attached to 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (2 YORKS) on Exercise Wessex Storm at Salisbury Plain.

Rachel said: "I was a bit dubious about working with an infantry battalion, but they have been nothing but welcoming. In fact, they have been very inclusive."

Also on the exercise was Sergeant Sherry Poppleton, 27, who was providing Staff and Personnel Support.

Sherry, whose nickname is Poppy, has been based with 2 YORKS at Catterick for the last year.

She says it's "easy" to be a woman in an infantry regiment because the role is ability-driven.

Sherry, who is originally from Thornaby-on-Tees, was encouraged to join the Army by her mother.

She said: "My mum took me to the careers office when I finished school. I’m so glad she did, because it’s the best thing I’ve ever done."