RAF News

RAF success at the Women in Defence UK Awards 2021

Women in Defence 2021 award next to champagne glasses.

The Women in Defence UK 2021 Awards saw many RAF finalists and winners.

Women in Defence UK started as a small LinkedIn group in 2011 but has now grown into a thriving community improving equality and opportunities across Defence.

Women in Defence UK aim to inspire, challenge, and develop.  They inspire others to enable change where needed and encourage them to seize opportunities; challenge the barriers against women; and develop an environment in which women can be themselves, learn and grow.

Sergeant Georgina Smith – Winner of the Resolute Spirit Award

Sergeant Georgina ‘Georgie’ Smith strives to create a diverse workforce in the RAF, by giving a voice to those who have experienced discrimination or difficulty.  She also educates people on disability and facilitates conferences to raise their awareness.

Alongside her serving role, Georgie is an advocate for the Chronic Conditions and Disability in Defence; the Vice Chair for the Air Disability Network; a Help for Heroes Ambassador; and a member of the Help for Heroes Beneficiary Advisory Panel.

Georgie holding her Award.
Sergeant Georgina Smith, winner of the Resolute Spirit Award.

Georgie has battled personal challenges that have impacted her physical and mental health.  She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2015 and opted to test medication in a clinical trial.  However, she was later removed when her blood readings worsened; impacting her physical and mental wellbeing. 

Despite these struggles, Georgie perseveres and even won 7 medals at the Warrior Games in 2019, as the UK team captain.

"To be nominated, shortlisted and subsequently announced as a Women in Defence finalist is a hugely proud and humble moment in my career; one I’ll never forget. I am extremely passionate about the work I do in the Disability and Illness space and any small steps forward is raising awareness and educating our Defence community. Well done to all the amazing and inspirational women who were nominated."

Sergeant Georgina ‘Georgie’ Smith

Georgie has earned her Resolute Spirit Award for her incredible resilience to achieve despite her own challenges, and using this to allow others to thrive.

Former Sergeant Danny Holt – Finalist in the Equality of Opportunity Award

Former Sergeant Danny Holt is an outstanding role model for those struggling with gender identity; having shifted attitudes and amended policies to create inclusivity and challenge misconceptions around gender.

Danny faced gender dysphoria and courageously became the first person in the RAF to publicly identify themselves as Non-Binary, in March 2018.

Danny picture.
Former Sergeant Danny Holt, finalist in the Equality of Opportunity Award.

Danny went on to educate others on gender and how to address non-binary individuals with gender-neutral terms, rather than specific pronouns; help to form the RAF Gender Network, creating an inclusive environment and set objectives; develop a range of online resources; and co-host the live webinar on ‘Gendered Language and the Non-Binary experience’.

Danny has since left service and now works as a PhD Researcher, at Cranfield University, but continues to achieve equality and help those with their gender identity, as well as leaving a great legacy with the RAF.

"My last few years in the RAF were a constant fight, with some big wins for everyone. To be recognised for my work is a huge privilege, but until the RAF provides equity across the gender spectrum, there’s still more work to do."

Former Sergeant Danny Holt

Danny is an inspirational role model for all struggling with gender identity and incredible advocate for equality, earning the Equality of Opportunity Award.

Wing Commander Sarah McDonnell – Winner of the Most Collaborative Award

Wing Commander Sarah McDonnell was the Programme Manager for the new E-7 Wedgetail aircraft, replacing UK Airborne Early Warning Command & Control capability.

She displayed outstanding management and communication skills, uniting her team across departments to deliver the end goal.  She even reduced the overall cost of the Programme by over £750 million, without impacting capability.

Sarah holding her Award.
Wing Commander Sarah McDonnell, winner of the Most Collaborative Award.

She responded to numerous ministerial submissions and engagement plans with international partners; effectively communicated with all stakeholders; and eventually attained the vision.

Sarah is now participating in Advanced Command and Staff Course.

"It’s a real honour to have been nominated, especially when there are so many amazing people contributing to defence, however, as always, it is about the wider team."

Wing Commander Sarah McDonnell

Sarah efforts delivering a Programme against challenges has earned her the Most Collaborative Award.

The RAF congratulate all the amazing finalists who are a true inspiration across Defence.