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My story: “I can remember it like it was yesterday, it felt like this huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders”

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Will Ambler is a Communications Officer Controller in our Force Control Room. Here he shares his story with us:

“I have worked for North Yorkshire Police in the Force Control Room for almost 15 years now. I have predominately worked as a Dispatcher however had short periods of time in the Crime Recording Unit and the ANPR hub.

“I came across the job quite accidentally whilst working at The Benefits Agency as it was then. My dad had applied a few years before but sadly didn’t the chance to work here. We are similar characters so I decided to give it ago. To my shock I got the job and here I am 15 years later.

“I am based in Northallerton and I initially worked at our old HQ in Newby Wiske. I then moved to York when the Force Control Rooms went from two locations to one. I am often heard to say that even after all this time there is nothing I would rather do. I count myself as being very lucky getting to work in a job I love.

“My role includes dispatching officers to incidents or taking both 101 and 999 calls. I tend to cover Harrogate/Craven or Hambleton/Richmond. We start most shifts, other than earlies, with a briefing. This gives us a good idea what has happened prior to us starting shifts. I then check what incidents there are to deal with, as well as incoming incidents. Each shift is different. Sometimes you are nonstop, other times are slower and you can get more in depth with the incidents.

“One of the things I love the most about working for North Yorkshire Police are the people I work with. I work within a group of approximately 30. This includes Inspectors, Managers, Call Takers and Dispatchers. I have changed bands and worked with a number of people over the years.

“Two years ago I made the decision to change my gender. I say that as though it was a choice, which obviously it was not. My line manager at work, Lynn Broadbent, was in fact the very first person I told. I can remember it like it was yesterday, it felt like this huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. At the same time I had never been more scared, knowing that my life was going to change in ways I couldn’t imagine.

“The hardest part was that I truly believed that all those I held dear, my family, my friends, would all disown me. I was worried that my friends at work would treat me different. Starting at the police I was in an openly gay relationship. That was how people knew me. I had never had any issues at this point. It almost felt like I had gone back in time. Or so I thought.

“I should have had more faith in those around me. I firstly told my family. This included my 78 year-old mum who was beyond incredible. Her words will resound forever with me (having lost her just before my first surgery). She told me that she had always known, and that she always considered herself to have two sons and a daughter (I am one of three, older brother and sister). There wasn’t a single member of my family or friends that were shocked.

“One of the hardest things I had to do was a briefing at work. It was my decision. The worst thing I could think of was people talking about me. That’s human nature, people talk. If I was open and honest, I could stop that before it started.

“Time was short, so on the 12th hour I decided to come in and hold a briefing at work, in front of my peers and managers. Anyone how knows me will know that I aren’t shy and I always have plenty to say. I don’t think I looked up the entire time I was talking. I felt as though my heart was beating out of my chest. Not one person in that room walked out without shaking my hand or giving me a hug. That moment will remain with me forever. How lucky am I to work with some incredible people?

“Being Transgender within the force isn’t something that happens a lot, so my managers and HR have worked hard to ensure I know what is expected of me, but also what I can expect of them. Emilie Philips from HR in particular has been brilliant. She has kept in regular contact after my surgeries to ensure I know the support remains in place. 

“At the start of this, Inspector Falkingham of the LGBT+support group, Nick Dyson the Inclusion and Diversity Coordinator alongside Lynn and Inspector Simon Gannon worked hard to ensure that when I came back to work all my work identification would be updated. Something I hadn’t even thought of, but that made such a difference.

“I am now lucky enough to have had my top surgery done, which was a real changing point for me. Sadly, shortly afterwards, I was in an accident and subsequently had to have my chest opened up again. This was a number of months after my initial surgery and some of this time was spent away from work. Again, the support I had from my line manager and HR were incredible. I even had an email of support from the Chief. It seems small, but it’s amazing the difference it makes to know people are routing for you.

“I am often asked what’s next. In all honesty I tend to wait until I am told by doctors. My other half knows far more about the surgeries that I will undergo than I do. I do know that I now have to wait around a year for stage one of my bottom surgery. There are few gender clinics in the UK. I am based at the clinic in Leeds (oddly where my own dad was born). This gives me time to heal, physically and mentally. I have come to realise that my mental health is as important as my physical health, and both need to be given the same time and care. I get sick now more than I ever did before. I joke that man flu is real! It’s believed to be all linked with testosterone. Sadly it does have a lot of negative effects. But without it I wouldn’t be the self-made man I am today, or have the makings of a moustache. I couldn’t be more grateful that I am able to live the life I do.

“I think these past two years have been a huge learning curve. I have learnt an awful lot about myself. I have found happiness with a wonderful woman and I am now blessed to be part of a family. Something I didn’t think possible at the start of this journey.

“If I could give people in my situation advice it would be to attend some of the support groups you can either attend or find on the internet. Talk to people. Share your fears, and your hopes. The chances are the things you are most worried about, are far more worrisome in your mind than they ever will be in reality.”

If you would like to speak to someone within the force’s LGBT+ network please email lgbt@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk and someone in the team will get back to you.

For more information about inclusion and diversity at North Yorkshire Police please click here.

Pictured: Will with members of his lovely little family.

 

 

Last modified: June 4, 2019