Tuesday 8th March 2022
Flying Officer Caroline Newton, a Support Force Training Officer, proved to the world that age is no barrier to career progression or success in the RAF.
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Caroline Newton’s achievements go beyond her military career, and into the growing world of health and wellbeing through her commitment to yoga.
At 52 years old Caroline (pictured) pursued a commission, graduated from the same programme as her younger course mates, and became a Royal Air Force Officer. Having completed her phase two training, Flying Officer Newton is the Training Officer for No 85 Expeditionary Logistics Wing, part of the RAF Support Force at RAF Wittering.
Vulcan bombers with roaring Olympus engines overhead are Flying Officer Newton’s childhood memories of the Royal Air Force. Caroline grew up in Lincolnshire and, even at a young age, had already developed a strongly independent and inquisitive personality.
She said: “I didn’t want to do what everyone else at school and college wanted to do, I wanted to leave home and experience a life of my own. And I was the only one of my college course (office and business management) to join the military, which was pretty unusual back then.”
Over the next thirty-four years Caroline would serve her country in some of the most remote and demanding locations; Cyprus, Northern Ireland, Norway, America, Canada, Iraq, the Falklands, Ascension Island and Egypt.
Choosing to become an officer is a huge decision for anyone. After more than three decades as an enlisted servicewoman it is a life changing moment. Flying Officer Newton said: “Dealing with people was my area of excellence, helping someone to be the best version of themselves, so it was a natural transition into the training environment. But I had some great mentors who coached an encouraged me.”
Flying Officer Newton particularly credits her friends Squadron Leader Tim Henson and Flight Lieutenant Nicola Mackay. She said: “They were great motivators, they saw the qualities I had and saw my potential, and I was proud to have had their support. Their encouragement was a really solid grounding.”
Caroline continued: “For the first six weeks of officer training I kept really quiet. I was the oldest person there, and I’d been in for 34 years so I wanted to blend in as best I could and not stick out like a sore thumb. But I quickly realised the influence that I had, because I was 52 and could keep going, the other students, who were half my age HAD to keep going. And they were so encouraging, never once did I think about giving up. Battle-PT was a nightmare though.”
Flying Officer Newton is qualified yoga teacher and is bringing her love of this exercise to the Royal Air Force. She said: “Yoga fits within our strategy of building fitness, emotional and psychological wellness and resilience. It can bring about a more focussed attention, a greater energy within the body, enables increased fitness, flexibility, strength, co-ordination and balance. It can also have a great impact on your mindfulness.”