Cheryl Walker
Cheryl Walker

Female Army chef Private Cheryl Walker found herself out on the frontline in Afghanistan looking for women who might be carrying improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Although she was intially deployed to the troubled region to cook for soldiers at patrol bases in the Nahr-e Saraj region of Helmand province, she was soon assigned to patrol with members of the 1st Battalion, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (1PWRR), who head the police advisory team in Helmand.

Since she was one of the few women placed in a forward location, Pte Walker, who hails from Aberdeenshire, Scotland, was sent out to scout for women who might be carrying IEDs and other illegal items..

"Touching women can be a highly sensitive subject in Afghanistan, so I search suspicious women during the course of patrols to make the lives of the guys on the ground easier and more secure. This sort of job often takes place during cordon operations, where high security levels are needed," Pte Walker said in a statement.

The 21 year old from the Royal Logistic Corps also participates in the unit's Female Engagement Team, which endeavours to communicate with Afghan women over health and education needs - both severely damaged by 30 years of conflict.

"Most people in Helmand are just trying to get on with their lives. It is easy to forget that the women of Afghanistan have endured enormous hardship at the hands of the Taliban. A normal patrol with the team will take in the women's centres in the Gereshk district and meeting local women. We recently went to a local women's council to plan a health clinic for women living in nearby rural areas and female education in nearby mosques," she said.

Her day job turned out different from what she imagined, but she still enjoys cooking meals for soldiers.

Commenting on her role as a chef, she said: "Day to day, I feed 25 soldiers, which is a pretty demanding task in itself. I have very limited resources at my disposal and only a single gas stove to work with, so making good food can be a real challenge. I haven't had any complaints from the lads yet, so it must be doing okay."

Pte Walker had previously been deployed to Iraq during the British drawdown from Basra in 2009.