This week in our regular series looking at life behind the fence of one of Europe's largest naval bases we meet the woman whose job needs more than a sunny disposition. 

Keeping an eye on the weather is more than just of passing interest for the navy.

RNAS Culdrose, at Helston, takes it so seriously that it has its own dedicated department with a team of 15 staff who monitor and forecast the weather.

They have their own weather station with an impressive array of sensors and gauges.

Lieutenant Francesca Allen is second in command of Culdrose’s meteorology department.

The 30-year-old, who lives at Penzance, said: “I am a weather forecaster and I do the forecasts for the station.

“The army and RAF use the civilian weather forecast – but the navy is different and we have our own weather forecasters because we do military aviation over the sea. We are the only specialists that can do that weather forecasting at sea.”

Alongside her weather duties, Lt Allen has been nominated for an award in this year’s Women in Defence Awards.

The nomination in the ‘gender balance category’ is for her work in setting up a Culdrose branch of the national Naval Servicewomen’s Network.

She said it allows women serving at Culdrose to get together once a month, typically for a cuppa, to offer each other support.

Lt Allen added: “I am not saying coffee and biscuits can change the world, but if someone comes in who has an issue, they can talk about it.

"I may not be in their chain of command but I have enough rank on my shoulder and experience now, after ten years in the navy, that I can do something about it.”