Why an Army Veteran from Preston is taking part in the Great Manchester Run on Sunday - and how much weight she lost to do it

A soldier in The Women’s Royal Army Corps and former postwoman from Preston is taking on the Great Manchester Run alongside 40 other female veterans to raise awareness for the Women’s Royal Army Corps Association, WRAC.

By Aimee Seddon
Friday, 20th May 2022, 12:30 pm
Updated Friday, 20th May 2022, 3:38 pm

68-year-old Pip Flegel, who lives in Garstang, will be using a wheelchair to tackle the race this Sunday, and lost two stone so that her Veteran friend can push her across the finish line.

Pip, who is partially sighted, said: “When I joined the army I was only 17, I came from a broken home and it gave me a focus, taught me how to look after myself and discipline. Being part of the army was the best time of my life, it made me the person that I am today.

“I served across the country and was even posted in Northern Ireland. At the time women weren’t trusted with weapons so we were patrolling with only a white pickaxe handle.

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Pip Flegal (left) from Garstang is taking part in the Greater Manchester Run alongside other female veterans, including her friend Jañn Brant-Cassidy (right), to raise awareness for the Women’s Royal Army Corps Association.

“It was a different time for women back then, there were strict rules about marriage, pregnancy and sexuality. Breaking any of these rules would mean that your job was taken away from you, they’d put you down as ‘Services No Longer Required’.

“There’s been a lot of positive changes for women since I was part of the forces so it’s really great to see that there’s more inclusion and equality going forwards."

Pip left the Women’s Royal Army Corps after five years and moved to Manchester in 1976 where she became a postwoman for 26 years.

She retired due to ill health from Myasthenia Gravis, an autoimmune disease that affects the voluntary muscles of the body.

Pip has lost 2 stone that her Veteran friend Jañn can push her over the finish line.

Although she can walk with the aid of sticks, Pip is using a wheelchair to tackle the 10k race, and will be pushed by her friend and fellow Veteran Jañn Brant-Cassidy, also 68.

Pip said: “I’ve never done anything like this before but I’ve been going to Weight Watchers and changing my diet specifically to lose weight so that I’ll be lighter for Jañn.

“Me and Jañn have been training together, she’s not local so she will come and stay and we will go out and see what we can do. We’ve not managed 10k yet but I’m confident we will be able to do it.”

The group are raising money and awareness for the Women’s Royal Army Corps Association, which, set up in 1949 and with 70 branches nationally, supports women who served/are serving in HM forces through comradeship and emotional support.

WRAC Association Manchester Branch attending a WRAC statue unveiling at the National Arboretum

Pip added: “I found out about the WRAC Association on Facebook five years ago and I was so happy that I did. They help any woman who’s been in the forces - even if they’ve only served a day.

“I managed to get connections back to other women who I’ve served with. There are groups across the country and we will all go on organised trips together. Locally our group meets up monthly in Trafford and it’s great to feel like you have that support.

“I’m really proud to be racing and taking part for the WRAC Association and I hope that any woman who’s been in the forces knows that there’s this group that can support them - there’s nothing else specifically for women out there, it’s the only one of its kind.”

Taking place on May 22 and open to everyone, you can still sign up to this year’s Great Manchester Run here.

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