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Late husband inspires goal
All in the name of safety

By FLTLT Samantha Gosling and Andrew Stackpool

PLTOFF Narelle Gutteridge with her children, from left, 11-year-old Rebecca, three-year-old Alex and
eight-year-old Rachelle. They are happy that she has completed her course and graduated as the winner
of the 03/04 Leadership and Military Qualities Award.

PLTOFF Narelle Gutteridge with her children, from left, 11-year-old Rebecca, three-year-old Alex and eight-year-old Rachelle. They are happy that she has completed her course and graduated as the winner of the 03/04 Leadership and Military Qualities Award.

Photo by SGT Dave Grant

WHEN cancer claimed the life of her husband, Pilot Officer Narelle Gutteridge chose to continue their joint ambition of her gaining a commission.

That decision culminated in PLTOFF Gutteridge’s graduation from 03/04 Initial Offi cer Course on September 10, along with 25 other members.

To add to the emotion of the day, she received the 03/04 Leadership and Military Qualities Award, which recognises her outstanding leadership, Air Force values, military skills and academic performance.

She said the “award is for Steve and his memory”. CPL Steve Gutteridge, a fi refi ghter at RAAF Base Richmond, died last December.

“Without his initial support I would not have been at Point Cook in the fi rst place. However, it is also for [our three] children and all the people who have supported me in this endeavour,” she said.

“Whenever things got a little overwhelming, for whatever reason, I thought about why I was doing the course, what Steve and I worked towards and things he would have said to me to get me through.

“A lot of the time I coped quite well, however when things got me down, I would just sit down by myself and think.

I had a close group of friends on course who I used to bounce things off and they helped without even knowing it; just being there if I needed a shoulder.”

She said having family close-by and a father, uncle and father-in-law who were ex-Servicemen had helped when life became stressful during the 17-week course.

Her husband was in the Air Force for 17 years, her father for 21 years and her uncle served in World War II. “I found the course demanding in different ways at different times - mentally, physically and emotionally.

Juggling the demands of the children was the easy part because I knew they were being cared for by family and friends and that they were happy, so there was no concern there.

The only sad thing was missing both the girls’ birthdays and not being there if they needed their mum,” she said.

Family commitments had initially held PLTOFF Gutteridge back from pursuing her ambition to gain a commission after joining the Air Force in 1998.

She fi nally applied in January 2003 and went to Offi cer Board in June 2003 before her husband became ill.

“He was aware and very supportive of my commission aspirations, so much that he’d decided that my career would take precedence to his if I was offered one,” she said.

Their other goals were to travel wherever the Air Force sent them, fi nish renovating their house and enjoy their three children.

Now, she must do that alone.

Since joining the Air Force in 1998, PLTOFF Gutteridge has had postings to the Combat Support Unit RAAF Base Glenbrook and Headquarters Combat Reserve Wing.

She is now the Administration Offi cer to No. 1 Air Terminal Squadron at RAAF Base Richmond.

She remains optimistic of the challenges ahead. Completing the course was proof to her “that life goes on and only goes forward”.

“That is how Steve would look at it and want it to be,” she said.

 

 

 

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