A Royal Navy officer who supported a charity initiative while on a cricket tour in Kenya has been named one of the UK’s most inspirational women.
Lieutenant Commander Hazelle Garton, an inspirational figure on the cricket pitch, golf course and in helicopter hangars was singled out by judges of the We Are The City awards, which champions the UK’s leading female figures in all walks of life.
Annually, the awards pick 100 role models from every walk of life, and this year Lt Cdr Garton has been named among those and in the top five in the defence world.
Cricket lover Hazelle retired from playing for her county side Devon last season and is one of the top-10 of all-time wicket takers in the Women’s County Championship. She continues to captain the Royal Navy and UK Armed Forces ladies’ teams.
It was in this capacity that she led a cricket tour of Kenya during which she also helped provide coaching for around 200 local children living in slums. She also worked with community group Opening Boundaries which raises awareness of domestic violence.
Under Hazelle’s leadership, the team played under the tag of ‘Bowling Out Domestic Violence’ raising awareness of the issue in Kenya where 45 percent of women in Kenya have experienced it.
Hazelle joined the Royal Navy as an Air Engineer Officer (AEO) in 2008 having completed a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Loughborough University.
Following training she took up post as Assistant and then Deputy AEO on 702 Naval Air Squadron where she supported ab-initio aircrew and engineering training for the maritime Lynx helicopter, that deploys on to the Royal Navy frigates and destroyers worldwide.
From 702 she moved to the Royal Naval Air Engineering and Survival Equipment School as the Staff Officer. In addition to supporting the executive functions of the School, Hazelle was heavily involved in the mentoring of students and examination of those passing through on courses; this included their personal and professional development a responsibility that she relished. She was also a key member of the organisation team for the biennial AEOs’ Conference which delivers professional development and networking opportunities to circa 350 AEOs across the Royal Navy.
Assigned to the helicopter landing platform, HMS Ocean in 2015, Hazelle was responsible for the safe execution of the embarkation of a dozen aircraft, stores and personnel from across the Armed Forces to enable a 4-month deployment in support of NATO exercises. Added to this, she oversaw the embarkation of 3 US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft to the Ship for a 2-week period of operations, the interoperability of which was a first for the Royal Navy. On leaving Ocean in 2016 Hazelle was privileged to be a member of the inaugural Ship’s Company of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, in direct charge of a section of 36 Air Engineer Technicians, where her experience was used to help develop the processes and procedures to be used once the Ship sailed on completion of her build programme.
Selected for promotion to Lieutenant Commander she took up her current post in the Merlin Delivery Team as a Technical Through Life Support Manager in 2017 and is now responsible for ensuring that all projects introducing capability to the thirty £39m maritime helicopters have a fully developed support solution before entering service, including the necessary spares, tooling, training and technical information.
Also a keen golfer, Hazelle represents both the Royal Navy and her local club, playing off a handicap of 10.
“I was shocked and humbled to have been recognised simply for doing the job that I love and having the privilege to captain UK Armed Forces and Royal Navy women’s cricket on tours that have been used as a vehicle to make a difference to young people’s lives,” said Hazelle.
Her boss, Commander Polly Hatchard, put her forward for the award – and is delighted with the outcome.
“I am so proud of Hazelle’s achievements,” she said. “She is a truly remarkable and yet very humble individual, who has already achieved so much during her time in the RN and I know she is capable of so much more.
“As a busy air engineer officer, she applies limitless flair, drive and total focus on delivering amazing quality and as a sportswoman, she’s taken Royal Navy women’s cricket and golf to extraordinary levels.”
Hazelle will marry her long-term partner Laura (also a Naval engineer) in December and looks forward to the prospect of the pitter-patter of 4 tiny paws arriving in the house in due course.