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Headshot of Mary-Ann Forster, DDRC Chamber Team and Trainer

11 February 2019

Born and raised in Scotland, Mary-Ann moved to Devon with her family in the 1990s. She describes herself as having been born a ‘water baby’, with a dad who was a keen sports diver. She also says that she just loves science!

In 2005/06 Mary-Ann first came to work for DDRC Healthcare as a Chamber Attendant in the Hyperbaric Medical Centre in Plymouth. This was a part-time ‘bank staff’ job that fitted around her studies at Plymouth University, where she read and attained a B.Sc.(Hons.) in Human Bio-sciences. Her final dissertation was on the effect of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) on bacterial activity.

After graduation she relocated back to Scotland to be closer to family and to have access to jobs in the offshore sector. Having always been interested in diving, Mary-Ann secured a job with Subsea 7 as firstly a tender, then Assistant Life Support Technician (ALST) and finally as an IMCA recognized Life Support Technician (LST). Her job was to look after the well-being of the divers who were working and living in a saturation diving complex.

She spent over eight years working offshore in the oil and gas industry, mainly in the North Sea and what she describes as the ‘foggiest part of the world in Canada’ ! She confesses that for much of the first five years she suffered from sea sickness, but was determined to push through that. I asked her what the benefits were of working at sea under such challenging conditions and whilst she admits the high salaries are an obvious bonus, she also enjoyed the excellent ‘banter’ and having a month off work at a time.

Mary Ann Forster in a hard hat overalls and harness
Mary Ann Forster – The Offshore Years

Returning to dry land and to Devon where she could settle down and get some dogs, she came back to DDRC Healthcare as a bank staff member of the Chamber Team. She is now a fully DDRC Healthcare qualified Chamber Attendant, Chamber Operator, Medical Technician and a Training Officer.

In 2017 Mary-Ann completed her Chamber Supervisor training and became an EBAss qualified European Certified Hyperbaric Chamber Operator (ECHCO).

A self-confessed lover of science, even she is surprised that although her first loves were biology and chemistry, she now really enjoys teaching Diving Physics. Mary-Ann provides training on a number of DDRC medical training courses including the IMCA Diver Medic Technician, Hyperbaric Chamber Operator, European Basic Hyperbaric Medicine (EBHM) and training for the British Antarctic Survey Medical Unit.

Mary-Ann is glad that she learned to dive in UK waters. She did her BSAC Open Water qualification in Plymouth and would recommend doing it in British waters.

As a supporter of Women In STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) she would also encourage more girls and women to pursue a science route through their education as it offers so many varied opportunities for an interesting and diverse career.

Interviewed by Louise Walsh, Communications Support, DDRC Healthcare

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