Council honours Royal Navy’s longest-serving Wren

Bridgend County Borough Council has presented the Royal Navy’s longest-serving Wren with the area’s Armorial Bearings to celebrate her retirement after 44 years of service.

The council presented Barbara McGregor, who lives in Aberkenfig, with the Armorial Bearings after her official plans for marking her retirement had to be put on hold due to Covid-19 restrictions.

She will wear her uniform for the final time on Wednesday 11 November as she lays a wreath at the cenotaph in Bryn, near Maesteg, where she is from originally, to pay her respects on Remembrance Day.

Barbara, who was the most senior Warrant Officer of the Royal Naval Careers Service, is a former pupil of Cynffig Comprehensive School and has returned there several times to give talks to youngsters.

Barbara joined as a Radio Operator in 1977, serving at HMS Heron, Yeovilton, HMS Dryad and HMS Rooke, Gibraltar. This was later followed by the first of two deployments at HMS Raleigh, Cornwall, where she trained new female ratings.

Her second period at HMS Raleigh was during a time of change for the Royal Navy when female and male recruits were trained together and women first went to sea.

More recently she became the Regional Development Manager for the Naval Regional Command Wales and Western England, which encompasses 15 Armed Forces Careers Offices. She was also involved with the NATO Summit when it was held in Cardiff in 2014.

Bridgend County Borough Council’s Armed Forces Champion, Councillor Richard Young, who also served in the Royal Navy, said: “On behalf of the council I would like to offer our sincere congratulations to Barbara on her retirement after an exemplary 44 years of service in the Women’s Royal Navy. She should be rightly proud of the many years of dedicated service she has given to her country.”

Cllr Young, who is also cabinet member for communities, added: “Unfortunately at this time we are unable to meet with Barbara in person to offer our thanks but would like to extend an invitation for her to come into the Civic Offices and meet with us when the situation allows.

“I look forward to meeting with you at a future date but for the moment would take the opportunity to wish her a long and happy retirement – ‘Onward with Confidence’.”

To mark her achievement, Barbara has been offered the Armorial Bearings of the county borough, which features symbols which honour the area’s long association with the sea and gives thanks to those whose serve in our Navy.