Welcome back! As promised in this post we find out all about the first 3 firefighters who form one half of our dynamic team; Antarctic Fire Angels. First up, team LAFA (London Antarctic Fire Angels) led by Nakita Ross;
Nakita is the Founder of Antarctic Fire Angels and Team Leader for LAFA. She is 33 years old and Leading Firefighter at Technical Rescue Station in Battersea.
She spent her teenage years as an Air Cadet until she joined the London Fire Brigade at the age of 20. Since then she has gone on to take leading roles at two major joint agency national disaster exercises and has become London’s first female Urban Search and Rescue instructor.
As mentioned in the first blog, she delivers practical sessions at the annual Women in the Fire Service National Training Event, which is where she first met Georgina, team leader of WAFA. (All will be revealed in the next post…!).
In February 2019 Nakita joined Battersea Red Watch and was given her spirit animal of an artic fox, ironic really as this was long before she knew just how accurate that would be! Outside of the brigade she competes in Brazilian Jujitsu which focuses her drive to win, determination and flare. She isn’t one to shy away from a challenge and is likely to take on anyone bigger than her in a wrestling match, and win!
Over her 13 year career Nakita has attended many challenging incidents, none more so than the disaster of the Croydon tram crash and the horrendous high rise fire at Grenfell Tower.
The expedition is something Nakita feels passionately about and it is hugely important to her. She wants to show women that they can achieve any challenge they want to in life including overcoming PTSD. “I think it’s important to recognise there is a stigma attached to mental health in society and it desperately needs to be tackled. I’m also hoping to show full disclosure of the problems we will face out on the ice and that a cool head can make all the difference when faced with adversity”.
Nikki knew from the moment she met a female firefighter at a London Brigade open day that this was the job she wanted to do and in 2009 she did just that!
She is also a qualified Level 3 personal trainer and uses this to help people recognise their true potential. Nikki is a great believer that exercise is a huge benefit and attributes her own mental health to a positive attitude towards nutrition and activity as well as maintaining a good life balance.
Based in Chelsea Nikki was at the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 within 30 minutes of the blaze starting. She is extremely proud of the work her and her colleagues did that night.
Along with her day job and her P.T she loves to inspire women to push themselves and reach their goals. She recently travelled to Thailand to Tajikistan to teach rope rescue to women wanting to become the first female rescue responders. Nikki was so inspired and in awe of their determination she hopes to return to continue and help with the steps being taken by their Government towards a more equal society.
Nikki has a drive to complete and win challenges, whether that involves a 10k swim, 75 mile bike ride or a boxing fight in front of 1200 people! This next expedition will be her biggest challenge to date and what a way to show women what you can achieve when you put your mind to it. Even if one woman is inspired by this journey Nikki is happy to go 3 months without twiglets…!
Rebecca has an impressive sporting history; having played in the Rugby World Cup and Six Nations for Wales; rowed for Great Britain at World and European Championships winning a bronze medal and swimming the English Channel as part of a female relay team setting a new British record at the time!
In November 2017 her sporting career was cut short due to a multiple ligament rupture in her knee after playing a game for Harlequins.
She was wheelchair bound for months, battled depression, society identity and had to come to terms with not achieving her childhood dream to become an Olympian.
At the age of 37 she became a firefighter, fulfilling a lifelong ambition after leaving her previous job as a PE teacher. Changing her career so late in life was a huge risk but her guts and determination to persevere means it has been the best decision she ever could have made.
Her mini sausage dog, George, will be a key part of her support team and motivational coach! Rebecca is super excited about getting stuck into this challenge and is passionate about being an example for other women and girls who want to push boundaries and challenge themselves in life.
Next up; an introduction to team WAFA (Wales Antarctic Fire Angels) led by Georgina Gilbert, co-founder of the Antarctic Fire Angels!
Written by Elissa.