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End of an era as last surviving Wren leaves HMS Sultan naval branch

HONOUR Petty Officer Education Training and Support Donna White was presented her Valedictory Certificate by Commodore Michael Farrage for 22 years service

HONOUR Petty Officer Education Training and Support Donna White was presented her Valedictory Certificate by Commodore Michael Farrage for 22 years service

THERE will never be another Wren quite like Donna White.

The Royal Navy petty officer, of HMS Sultan in Gosport, has bid farewell to the service as the last surviving member of a naval training branch.

After more than 22 years in the navy, PO White has moved on to start a new life with her family in Australia.

Her retirement from the navy brings to a close the history of the education and training branch.

A number of PO White’s former colleagues returned to the Gosport base to wave her off.

PO White said: ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in the Royal Navy.

‘As in any career there have been highs and lows, but overall I feel my time in the navy has been a very positive experience.’

The education and training specialisation started life in the 
1980s.

In 1990, the Royal Navy decided Wrens in service were not being used to their full potential, and asked for volunteer Wren officers to go to sea.

The first group of 20 female sailors joined the Type 22 frigate HMS Brilliant shortly after.

By November 1993, the Women’s Royal Naval Service was disbanded as a separate service and all women members were encouraged to serve at 
sea.

But sea trials showed there was no need for full-time roles in education and training support for Wrens at sea.

Recruitment to the specialisation was then stopped.

Civilians have over time replaced the role of these specialists, and by 2009 there were no ratings serving in the branch.

PO White leaves the service as the last surviving member.

A number of her former colleagues gathered on her last day to mark the occasion.

Andy Lord worked with PO White early in her career when he was a Lieutenant Commander at HMS Nelson in Portsmouth.

He said: ‘As a young Wren, Donna was initially a little quiet but she rapidly grew in confidence and she always worked hard and was very reliable.

‘I will always remember her for her brilliant sense of humour and distinctive laugh.

‘It’s a real privilege to be able to wave her off.’

PO White met her partner, Chief Petty Officer Tim Mottershead in the service, and they have an eight-year-old daughter called Leah.

 

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