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Longest Career in The Navy (Female)

The longest career in the navy (active duty/service) (female) is 43 years 189 days, achieved by Barbara Mary McGregor (UK), from 26 July 1977 to 31 January 2021.


WO1 Barbara McGregor served in in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy for the duration of her record-breaking career. Her main influence for joining the Women’s Royal Naval Service was her brother, who was in the Royal Marines. Barbara’s father was also in the Physical Training Corps of the Army and her grandfather had served as a Major in the Royal Welch Regiment before, during and after WWII.

As a child, Barbara wanted to be a veterinary nurse, but struggled with seeing animals hurt. She also considered a career as an air hostess, however did not have the required language skills. One day she asked for a Wren Officer to visit her school to give careers advice on joining the WRNS and was immediately hooked, joining as a Wren Radio Operator.

She credits the camaraderie the Service brings and the lifelong friends she has made as the reasons for her lengthy career. Her career highlights include meeting Lord Louis Mountbatten on her 18th birthday, and more recently playing a major part in the NATO Summit in Cardiff meeting Royalty and Presidents. The greatest lesson she has learned is to “treat people the way you would like to be treated; be kind. It is never too late to learn. Be loyal, committed and work hard, it will always stand you in good stead for the rest of your life.”

On becoming a Guinness World Records title holder, Barbara said: “From a young girl I can always remember receiving the Guinness World Records book for Christmas. I absolutely loved reading all the fascinating achievements. It is a great honour for me to be mentioned along with such magnificent people, a legacy I am exceptionally proud of.”