International Women’s Day: Saluting inspirational members of the Armed Forces community

Forces Children’s Education is proud to mark International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March and celebrate all women who are part of the military. Whether having served or belonging to an Armed Forces family, each person has an integral role in our community.

Over the past few decades, the role of women within the military and society has changed considerably. This year’s IWD theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion’ and we are highlighting a trailblazer from the Forces community who continues to inspire.

Meet Natalie

Natalie Cutler served as a radio operator in the Women’s Royal Naval Service from 1977 to 1981, predominantly in Naval Intelligence roles.

Today, Natalie is the Secretary and a member of the Board of Trustees at the Lothian Veterans Centre, supporting its mission to offer a safe and welcoming environment providing immediate assistance, support and guidance on various services such as health and wellbeing, housing, employment, benefits, pensions, further education and training and access to health services. 

Natalie said: “I am committed to serving my community, ensuring Forces families have the support they need. I have worked in collaboration with the four Lothian local authorities and NHS Lothian, to enhance the delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant through the Lothian Armed Forces and Veterans Project.

“Our team successfully developed an elearning module for local authority frontline staff, improving their understanding of the needs of the Armed Forces and Veterans community.”

Natalie also assisted Forces Children’s Education and played a significant role in supporting our social media presence to provide accurate information for education professionals and Armed Forces families in Scotland. 

Her determination to provide support also covers the wider Scottish community.

“As a trained mental health first aider and a trauma informed practitioner, I utilise these skills to help fellow Veterans facing mental health challenges,” Natalie said. “For me, to sit with someone and provide comfort in their darkest hours is a special privilege.

“I am also an advocate and fundraiser for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), visiting schools and community groups to raise awareness about undiagnosed heart conditions. To date, I have funded heart screenings for 300 young individuals in my area, with another 100 scheduled next month.”

In honour of her work, Natalie has been announced as a finalist for the Community Award at the Scottish Veterans Awards 2024.

ADES National Education Officer Carolyn MacLeod MBE, who runs Forces Children’s Education, said: “Natalie is a prime example of breaking barriers within our Armed Forces community. Her determination to support Veterans, their families and the wider public is truly inspirational.

“Natalie continues to champion members of Forces families and I am delighted she has been recognised by the Scottish Veterans Award as a finalist. We all wish Natalie the best of luck at the awards ceremony in April.”

IWD is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

Forces Children’s Education provides an ever-expanding range of resources and authoritative information to support the learning journey of children and young people from Armed Forces families. We have many resources including documents, guides and links to local authorities and partnership groups available, all available to families and educators.