British Army recruits oldest female chaplain

Ailsa Whorton is currently a curate at St Michael and All Angels church in West Kirby. She recently found out that she has been accepted into the British Army where she will take up the role of chaplain. What is unusual about Ailsa's appointment is that at the age of 53, she will be the oldest female to have ever been recruited into the army as a chaplain.

Prior to being a curate, Ailsa worked in banking for 28 years but it was during her time at Thorn Cross, young offenders institution, while undertaking reader training about eight years ago, that she first felt that God might be calling her to towards a vocation in chaplaincy. From being a Reader, Ailsa was then accepted into ordination training. Her final year's training placement was with the British Army and it was this that cemented her belief that God was indeed calling her to one day become a chaplain – in the Army.

After she was ordained Ailsa became a curate in West Kirby and soon discovered that she was too old to join the Army. Perhaps God had other plans for her, she thought.

Then, just a year ago the British Army upped the age limits for recruiting chaplains to fifty-seven years old. Ailsa applied for the role of an army chaplain and… was rejected. And not just once, but several times, because of some health issues and also because of Ailsa's age, even though it was within the acceptable limits. It seemed that doors were closing on her in every direction, but Ailsa didn't give up. Through her determination and with the support of her vicar Cheryl Coverley, Ailsa went through the appeals process and was eventually accepted.

Ailsa begins her officer training in September 2020 and from there she will be posted to a unit, as yet unknown.

Good luck Ailsa. And keep up the fighting spirit.


Page last updated: Wednesday 19th August 2020 1:14 PM
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