Inspirational Rebecca shows you can mix Royal Navy and family life

A MUM who took time out of her naval career to care for her disabled son - and support a city charity - has been hailed an inspiration.

Wednesday, 25th July 2018, 3:13 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th July 2018, 3:19 pm
Leading Writer Rebecca Fyans, second from right, receiving her award LPhot Sam Seeley/Royal Navy

Leading Writer Rebecca Fyans, of Portsmouth, has been named as a Rising Star in Defence for her years of hard work spreading the positive message about Down's syndrome - a condition her young son Sebby has.

She managed to fend off competition from more than 1,200 entries to win the accolade, presented to her during a glitzy awards do in London.

Rebecca's journey started in 2007 when she joined the Royal Navy at the age of 27. She's worked on board HMS York, in Camp Bastion hospital in Afghanistan and the shore establishment HMS Nelson, before finding out she was pregnant in 2012.

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Her son Sebby was born in 2013 with Down's syndrome.

'˜This is when my life changed for the better, forever,' said the hardworking mum of two. '˜The Royal Navy allowed me to take a career break to dedicate my time to ensuring he had the best start in life. During this time I became closely involved with a children's charity, the Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association.

'˜Volunteering as a charity secretary, trustee and new parent liaison I have: delivered training to midwives on how to give a positive diagnosis of Down's syndrome lectured college students and educational professionals; spoken at charity events and high profile dinners; been filmed for TV and organised and taken part in multiple fundraising events.'

After four and a half years Rebecca returned to the navy, where she now works in naval legal services at Navy Command HQ, in Portsmouth and says she hasn't looked back:

'˜I'm proof that you can have a full-time career in the Royal Navy, a husband that also serves in the military, two children - one with additional needs - and be a trustee who aims to inspire women to stay in the armed forces after having children.

'˜The skills I've learnt in my role as trustee definitely benefit me every day in my job in the navy, likewise I bring skills and perspective from my military career that has changed the way the charity carries out its business.'

Rebecca's husband Mike, a Marine Engineer serving on board HMS Queen Elizabeth, is right behind her charity efforts, which she says, wouldn't be achievable without his support. 

The awards, voted for by over 30,000 members of the public and 54 industry judges, celebrate talent below management level, showcasing remarkable women from across 20 industries and professions in the UK.

On receiving her award Rebecca said: '˜I'm honoured to be named as a Rising Star. I've found it really empowering, it's given me so much more confidence to succeed in my job in the Royal Navy as well as my charity work.

'˜You realise there are no limits in what you are trying to do. Just being nominated was brilliant, because it shows that someone recognises and values your efforts.'

Captain Ellie Ablett, who is the Commanding Officer of training establishment HMS Raleigh and founder and Chair of the Naval Service Women's Network  was thrilled by Rebecca's award and said: '˜'˜She is an inspiration to us all; you don't need to hold high rank to make a difference, you just need passion, determination and a plan.'

Rebecca has since been invited by the Ministry of Defence to become an advisor on the newly created Chronic Conditions and Disability in Defence (CanDID) Network '“ set up to support those in the military and veterans with a health condition that requires ongoing management '“ a new challenge that Rebecca is excited about.