The UK's Top Female Officer Celebrates International Women's Day

The event was attended by Air Marshal Sue Gray and the Defence Secretary.

The UK Armed Forces most senior female officer has met more than 45 young male and female RAF apprentices at the Defence College of Technical Training.

The event was held at RAF Cosford and was a celebration of both International Women's Day and National Apprenticeship Week.

Air Marshal Sue Gray was accompanied by the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, where they met apprentices from a range of disciplines, including: aircraft engineering, cyberspace communications, survival equipment, the emergency services and photography.

Corporal Ashleigh MacKenzie, a Force Development Instructor, says events like this one are important to show people that women are more than capable of working in the military.

"Women can do the job just as good as the men and actually it's such a great environment to work in."

Senior Aircraftwomen Annie Allen echoed the comments:

"I do encourage women into the RAF because there's a low percentage of women in the RAF."

Apprentices showed off what they've been learning in their courses.

Speaking at the event, AM Gray, who has climbed up the ranks in a career that has seen her in both Gulf wars and Iraq, says the next generation is all about technology.

"It's all about exploitation of information, it's all about protection of data, it's all about being able to deliver decision making information in a real-time basis.

"Without having the technology, the engineering, the maths, to deliver that we are not going to continue to be a first-rate force in the future."

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the event was "amazing" and the courses help the apprentices even after they leave the forces.

"For me it's important - not just what they can contribute to the Armed Forces but also when they leave the services, making sure they have the right skills, the right level to really succeed in a future career once they've left the RAF, the Royal Navy or the British Army.

"By investing in them, we are making sure they understand we care about their future and what they're doing.

"It also means that we have a much better chance of being able to retain them much longer into the future as well."

Air Marshal Sue Gray at RAf Cosford Event Credit BFBS 080319
Air Marshall Sue Gray is now the most senior female officer.

AM Gray was asked who her inspiration was, she didn't cite a female and instead said it was her father because he treated both her and her sister as equals.

Mr Williamson said for him it was Margaret Thatcher:

"Margaret Thatcher was an inspirational woman, who blasted through glass ceilings, that showed there was no job that a woman couldn't do.

"It probably sounds a little cliched but you can't help but think she was an amazing woman who changed so much in this country and showed that woman, quite frankly, often do things much better than men," Mr Williamson added.