Megan’s quick march to Sandhurst academy
Growing up, Megan Lindsay-Bayley never saw herself as a soldier. But she fell in love with the military lifestyle serving in the Officer Training Corps while at the University of Newcastle in England.
Now the 23-year-old from Hamilton Parish will start the tough 44-week British Army officers' training course at the prestigious Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.
“I ended up doing Officer Training Corp at university and I really, really loved it,” she told The Royal Gazette.
“I just loved that it was something different, not a 9am to 5pm desk job.
“It's challenging in a lot of ways and there's a lot of camaraderie that you get when you're working in environments like that. I think the values and standards that the Army goes by are really good too.”
Since completing her degree in business marketing and management last year, she spent eight months backpacking around the world and is now itching to embrace the challenges ahead.
“I'm really ready to start now,” she said, adding that she is especially looking forward to getting to know her fellow Officer Cadets.
Ms Lindsay-Bayley, who has had her place since April 2015, will be starting the course with the September intake.
“People say that Sandhurst is Hogwarts with guns; because you have three terms, it's like school,” she said.
She explained that the first term is a condensed version of basic soldier training, the second focuses on academics and the third combines “everything together”.
Once she has completed the course, she will join the ranks of notable Sandhurst graduates such as Winston Churchill and Prince William,
But she said it's impossible to know where she will end up serving.
“About two-thirds of the way through, you go through another set of interviews and that's your boards, which will determine which regiment you will end up going into, or which corps.
“I am interested in either the Royal Engineers or the Intelligence Corps at the moment.
“As an officer, though, you almost are taking a step back. My main role, wherever I end up, is going to be leading and commanding 30 soldiers to begin with. “You've got to manage them, make sure they are getting the training they need, make sure everyone has got the right skills and then when you're deploying, you've got to be able to lead and manage everyone and make sure you are making the most out of everyone's abilities.”
Ms Lindsay-Bayley, a former Saltus Grammar School student, had to go through a tough selection process to earn her place.
“They just try and stress you out as much as possible, see how you cope under pressure,” she said.
“You do an initial interview just locally and then they send you through all the medical processing — they test every single aspect of everything that you would ever think of.”
She then attended a two-day briefing in Westbury, England.
“You get put in a syndicate of about eight people and you just work together on lots of team tasks.
“They do fitness tests as well, interviews, group discussions on current affairs, and then they'll do obstacle courses and things like that.”
She was invited back for the five-day Main Board, which she passed with flying colours.
As part of her preparation Ms Lindsay-Bayley also visited the Royal Bermuda Regiment, whose officers train at Sandhurst.
The Regiment will be sending two soldiers to the eight-week Army Reserve officers' training course, which starts at the same time as the full-time Army programme.
And while she acknowledged that her chosen career was still often considered a men's profession, Ms Lindsay-Bayley does not believe being a woman will hold her back.
“From being in the OTC — although it's probably not comparable at all to the actual army — I never felt anything was made more difficult for me because I was a woman.”
“I found that all the guys I was working with were very supportive. Physically, women, we're not as strong or as fast — that shows.
“But I think they're always supportive and everyone helps each other in an environment like that.”
Ms Lindsay-Bayley also has the support of her family.
She said: “They're happy for me to do whatever I'd like to do and they'll support me no matter what.
“My mother is hesitant but she's all for it if that's what I want to do. But encouraging definitely, which is good, because I'm going to need it.”