Pint-sized navy trainee Laura is “small but fierce”

Laura Shann, front, centre, with some of her fellow trainees.
Laura Shann, front, centre, with some of her fellow trainees.

A Sleaford woman has swapped a role as a receptionist for one of the most dangerous jobs in the world - despite her diminutive stature.

Standing at just shy of 5ft tall, Laura Shann was told she would struggle to cope with the demands of being a Naval Airman.

Laura Shann

Laura Shann

But the 24-year-old has proven her doubters wrong, ‘nailing’ her training and matching the achievements of her taller, and largely male, peers.

A forces spokesman said: “At slightly less than 5ft, she is just above the height restriction for her branch, and when she joined the Royal Navy, she was told by many that she would struggle to do the job due to her size.”

They added she had ‘overcome any obstacles in her way’.

The role of aircraft handler she is training for is a very physical job, working outside in all conditions.

Laura Shann gives the thumbs-up during her training as a Navy Airman

Laura Shann gives the thumbs-up during her training as a Navy Airman

Aircraft handlers are responsible for the safety of aircraft on ships at sea. They have to move helicopters and jets on flight decks and be ready to rescue aircrew if necessary and tackle fires.

The spokesman added: “Where many would have been put off, Laura has embraced every challenge presented to her, which has won her the admiration of her peers and the instructors at the Royal Navy School of Flight Deck Operations.”

Her training manager John Etherington said: “She has faced every challenge with steely grit and a desire to succeed. In the face of adversity, she has overcome every obstacle with real strength of character. She has had no preferential treatment – she has simply stuck at her training and worked hard. She deserves to be a Naval Airman.”

If Laura passes her course, she and her fellow trainees will ‘pass into’ the Aircraft Handlers branch on Friday.

They will have a special ceremony to mark the end of their gruelling course, and show off their new skills to family and friends.