She’s the north-east surgeon who has just become one of the first female recruits to join the SAS for a gruelling period of training in the Andes.
And Louise McCullough told the Press and Journal that her involvement with a mixed group of 25 people had been the “hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life”.
The 40-year-old orthopaedic surgeon at the Albyn Hospital in Aberdeen was tested to the limit during the 11-day ordeal as she and her colleagues were put through their paces by SAS chief instructor Ant Middleton.
But although the women were treated exactly the same as the men, the Aberdeen rugby doctor described it as immensely rewarding.
The TV series SAS: Who Dares Wins is being shown in six parts on Channel 4.
Louise said: “I didn’t have any idea what to expect, and it was one of the most mentally and physically demanding things I’ve ever done.
“The worst thing was being constantly on edge not knowing who was going to come barging through the door shouting at us to be on the parade square in five minutes for a beasting in the middle of the night.
“The winter weather was tough to deal with. We had less than 24 hours acclimatisation and it’s very humbling when what is normally a simple exercise becomes a struggle with shortness of breath and a feeling of drowning.
“The reason I signed up was to challenge myself – did I have the mental and physical resilience to cope with it? But everybody else was in the same boat – and I survived.”
The men and women shared cramped living and sleeping quarters and toilet facilities.
But she said the experience hadn’t persuaded her to enlist full-time with the SAS.
She said: “I love my own job and couldn’t give that up.
“Sharing accommodation and toilet facilities was initially quite intimidating, but that was soon forgotten.
“We became a team and any inhibitions were soon discarded. In this environment, I didn’t feel gender was an issue. There was definitely no favouritism from being female.
“I don’t think I found it tougher than the male recruits. We all found it equally difficult.
“To be honest, that is one of the things that drives you when you are struggling – the knowledge that everybody else is in the same boat as yourself.”
Gordon Thompson, the
director of rugby at Aberdeen Grammar, praised Mrs McCullough’s efforts.
He said: “Louise’s love of fitness regimes is well known and she often puts players to shame at pre-season.
“As a regular runner, weight trainer, boxer and fitness fanatic, it came as no surprise when she passed selection to appear on SAS: Who Dares Wins.
“We at the club are proud of her and we are sure she gave her normal 100%.”