May 2nd 2018

“My leadership and management skills have increased considerably”

Michelle Rowlands 1

Michelle riding Dexter during a recent training session.

A busy working mum from Derbyshire is encouraging others to learn how they can develop key organisational skills through the Royal Navy Reserve (RNR).

Able Rate Michelle Rowlands, aged 36, serves as a reservist with HMS Sherwood, the East Midlands’ only RNR unit, and works as a Flexible Nursing Assistant at Royal Derby Hospital in her civilian life.

Originally joining the reserves as a 17-year-old, Michelle spent two years volunteering before she had to leave due to other commitments. However, in 2016, she decided to give her ambition of working with the military another go and hasn’t looked back since.

As a busy working mum, it can be difficult to juggle your responsibilities to have time for yourself and to commit to being a reservist but Michelle says it is all about being organised. She explained: “In a short space of time my leadership and management skills have increased considerably which helps in all aspects of my life. Plus, joining the RNR has allowed me to improve my fitness levels and communication skills which are both real benefits both in and outside of the military environment.”

As a Flexible Nursing Assistant, Michelle often meets people of all ages who have served in the Armed Forces and thanks to her role in the RNR she now feels she has more of an understanding about the lives they have led and enjoys speaking to them about their experiences.

Michelle Rowlands

Michelle Rowlands after passing out at HMS Raleigh.

Since the start of the year, Michelle has battled the adverse weather conditions created by the ‘beast from the east’ to successfully complete her basic training at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall and has just got back from a horse riding skills exercise.

She continued: “The whole year has been a highlight so far in terms of my RNR training. I can’t believe how many opportunities there are. In my day job there would be no way I would get to take part in a prestigious ‘pass out’ parade’, jump in to the water to swim with jellyfish at HMS Excellent Training School or ride a horse called Dexter as part of a riding programme.

“I used to own my own horse a long time ago, but I’d forgotten a lot of riding skills so the Navy’s Grassroots Course I completed was ideal. I had a go at loads of things including mucking out, feeding, grooming and completed lessons about riding a horse for show jumping or dressage. I also took part in a jumping competition which was great fun.”

Specialising in Logistics at HMS Sherwood, her crewmates rely upon her to help with lots of different tasks from coordinating the delivery of supplies for training to making sure there is enough food for overnight exercises.

Concluding Michelle said: “My friends and family have all noticed a positive change in me since I joined HMS Sherwood. I have found the training tough but it is such an achievement completing all of it. I’d encourage anyone with an interest in the Navy to find out more about joining, I’ve gained so much already. Organisation is the key to me being who I am and I would recommend being a reservist to anyone.”

HMS Sherwood are going to be presented with the Freedom of the City of Nottingham later this summer. More details about the event and the route of the unit’s parade will be available ahead of the ceremony.

To find out more about HMS Sherwood visit or email

“The whole year has been a highlight so far in terms of my RNR training. I can’t believe how many opportunities there are."