Portsmouth sailor hailed an inspiration after beating cancer and triumphing adversity

SHE'S a courageous sailor who has battled years of trauma and personal tragedy to finally clinch her dream job.

Wednesday, 19th October 2016, 6:01 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 9:13 pm
Janine Mayoll won the special award for her inspirational story

Now Janine Mayoll has been hailed as one of the most inspirational female figures in the UK’s defence industry.

The 32-year-old steward’s amazing tale of triumph over adversity was celebrated at this year’s national Women In Defence Awards.

It comes after a three-year struggle that saw her overcoming cancer – but tragically losing both of her parents and beloved husband.

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But Able Rating Janine refused to let such heartache beat her and instead used her loved ones’ death as fuel to push forward.

Her remarkable determination has now led to her being named as one of the first crew members on the Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Janine, of Portsmouth, said: ‘I’m absolutely blown away.

‘I wasn’t expecting this at all. I just turn up and do my job and do it with pride.

‘To then win an award is amazing.

‘I have been focusing incredibly hard on my job and doing as well as I can while trying to get my life back on track.’

Janine joined the navy seven years ago.

After passing out of HMS Raleigh and completing additional training, she joined Portsmouth Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring, sailing to Canada and the US.

But in May 2012, aged 27, disaster struck as she was diagnosed with cancer.

The illness left her weak and fearing the worst and came just a month after a lung diagnosis for her father, Gary Turvey.

‘I didn’t know if I would make it – I definitely didn’t know if I could continue my job because I was at the beginning of my naval career,’ she said.

‘It was an incredibly scary time. But I never let it beat me – I just wanted to beat the cancer and get my life back on track.

‘The navy has been absolutely brilliant in supporting me. It’s been like a second family.’

In August of that year her dad died, aged 54, after a four-month battle for survival.

Then, less than a year later, in June 2013, her husband Stephen Mayoll lost his life.

The 44-year-old died after a blood clot formed in his leg and travelled to his lung following a heel injury.

Mr Mayoll had his leg put into an walking boot which allows mobility as the foot heals.

But just days later a blood clot formed in his leg.

It travelled to his lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism – a blood clot in the artery which feeds the lungs.

Tragically, an inquest into his death revealed failings during his treatment at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham.

To make things worse, in December 2014 – just days after the inquest hearing – Janine’s mother Danille Clews, died, aged 52.

Janine said: ‘It’s been quite a tough period in my life.

‘It was the hardest thing I have ever been through.

‘It turned my life upside down. It was really horrible.

‘But the people that they were and that I have lost are my inspiration.

‘They have driven me forward every single day since.’

She added: ‘My dad was my hero. He was such an inspiring dad who backed me 100 per cent of the way. I carry on with him in my mind.

‘And my husband was such a positive person and I have some wonderful memories. So it’s easier to carry on.

‘I’m trying to honour their memories by being as successful as I can.’

Women in Defence UK aims to promote the value of women across the defence industry, from the military branches and civilian companies.

The organisation’s aim is to encourage women to succeed, share their experiences, build networks and encourage talent at all levels to join the defence sector.

Janine was nominated by her colleagues and friends who wanted to pay tribute to her courage.

She was presented with the accolade at a ceremony at the Honourable Artillery Company in the London.

Janine was among more than 200 nominees from across five categories submitted for the inaugural awards.

A total of 15 finalists and their guests were invited to a celebratory dinner, with the Chief of the Defence Staff and Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, who presented the awards to the winner of each category as well as the overall Woman of the Year.

Janine’s inspirational story led to her being named as the joint winner of the Special Awards category alongside Heledd Kendrick.

Her award citation read: ‘Steward Janine Mayoll managed to maintain utmost professionalism and delivered her duties in a manner far above that expected of her during a period of almost unparalleled personal adversity.

‘She displayed tremendous courage and exemplified the Royal Navy’s core values in her role as steward for VIP visits and that high standards were delivered.

‘Steward Janine Mayoll is now a proud member of HMS Queen Elizabeth and it has been her dream to sail in the ship as she sails into Portsmouth for the first time.’

Angela Owen, founder of Women in Defence and defence expert at PA Consulting Group said: ‘It’s really great to see the hard work of this network result in its first recognised awards ceremony.

‘The UK’s defence community is determined to improve its diversity, so identifying and celebrating women’s talent and the value they bring to defence makes a great contribution to achieving that goal.’

When asked how she thinks her loved ones would have reacted to her award, Janine said: ‘My dad was always my biggest supporter and he would have been thrilled.

‘I know they would have been so proud of me. They would have been blown away.

‘I don’t think they realised how strong I was.’

Janine is currently based aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, in Rosyth, Scotland.

The 65,000-tonne leviathan is due to begin sea trials early next year and will sail into her home port of Portsmouth in late spring 2017.