PEI Sailor Wins Awards from Two Navies

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Ale­cia Bar­low is an award win­ner, not in one navy, but two. The re­servist from west­ern P.E.I. is now hold­ing ci­ta­tions from the Canadian Navy and the Royal Navy in the United King­dom.

It is al­most un­heard of for sailors to join the navy of a coun­try other than their own. Bar­low, from Welling­ton, did it while teach­ing school in Eng­land. She wanted to keep up her train­ing, so she ap­plied to join the armed forces. Her com­mand­ing of­fi­cer in Char­lot­te­town said Bar­low had to con­vince the Royal Navy to al­low her in. "We don't nor­mally trans­fer sailors back and forth be­tween navies that eas­ily," said Al­lan Dale, com­mand­ing of­fi­cer of HMCS Queen Char­lotte on P.E.I. "She wanted to do that so much in the Royal Navy they al­lowed her to do it, and she won the top sailor of her unit that she was train­ing with in the Royal Navy."

Bar­low says the main con­cern was whether her train­ing in Canada would meet the stan­dard of the Royal Navy. She took on ex­tra train­ing to con­vince the com­mand of HMS Pres­i­dent to let her in. "There was a lot of ex­tra prac­tis­ing and a lot of ex­tra work that I had to do in or­der to be able to par­tic­i­pate in the week­ends," she says.

Once she was in, Bar­low trained along­side mem­bers of the Royal Navy, though she did wear her Canadian uni­form. She muses that dur­ing pa­rades and cer­e­monies she was of­ten placed with higher rank­ing of­fi­cers since or­di­nary sea­men in the U.K. don't wear the dress uni­form like Canadian sailors.

Her work with her unit was out­stand­ing. She was rec­og­nized as the top sailor in her unit and ac­cepted the award dur­ing a pa­rade of sailors at the Tower of Lon­don.

"There were other awards that HMS Pres­i­dent gave to dif­fer­ent sailors for var­i­ous things. But I man­aged to get the Bell Me­mo­rial Cup tro­phy award." And that wasn't all. Bar­low restarted her train­ing back at HMCS Queen Char­lotte af­ter re­turn­ing from Eng­land in 2012. Ear­lier this fall she was sur­prised dur­ing one of the regular weekly train­ing nights for re­servists in Char­lot­te­town.

The Cen­ten­nial Award is given to the top ju­nior sailor of the Canadian Navy, and is open to re­servists and full-time sailors. Com­mand­ing of­fi­cer Dale an­nounced Bar­low was the 2014 win­ner. "I was speech­less," said Bar­low. She was also hon­oured in Ottawa this year dur­ing Navy Ap­pre­ci­a­tion Day, one of six sailors to re­ceive awards for acts of hero­ism and ex­cep­tional achieve­ment of their du­ties.

Last year, Bar­low also led the Op­er­a­tion Ni­jmegen 2013 team from HMCS Queen Char­lotte. It is the largest march­ing event in the world, with par­tic­i­pants shoul­der­ing 13 kilo­gram packs and march­ing 40 kilo­me­tres for fours ev­ery day through the Nether­lands.

De­spite the mount­ing awards, Bar­low has no in­ten­tion of aban­don­ing her teach­ing ca­reer for full-time work in the ser­vices. She says teach­ing al­lows her the flex­i­bil­ity to train on the week­ends and in the sum­mer, while spend­ing time in the class­room dur­ing the re­main­der of the year.

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