Antarctic Fire Angels; Q and A. (2)

So the last blog post with a short Q&A went down really well with readers so here is another one to keep you going. Whilst in lockdown this is the best way for you to get to know the Antarctic Fire Angels a little better; enjoy!

Q1. What is your biggest fear?

George – Not achieving, including the smaller things, not just the Expedition itself. 

Nakita – To not achieve the goals I set. It just feels like unfinished business and that I’ve let myself down.

Alison – Getting older and having to rely on other people. Being a burden to others. 

Bex – It was actually heights before I got into the Firebrigade, I had to really conquer this to do this awesome job. The training and skills I have learnt alleviated my fears and allowed me to deal with it throughout training and now at work. I have over come this now! 

Nikki – I fear by body becoming incapable of doing what my mind wants it to do – like through significant injury or old age and losing my independence. I also have a fear of regret.

Beci – Loosing someone close to me and/or having an unhappy family. 

 Q2. What are you most proud of?

Beci – My family, I’m so proud of the people my children are growing up to be (so far so good…) and my job. I absolutely love my job. 

Nikki – My independence I think – I’ve worked very hard to prove that I am capable of doing anything I want to do. Lots of things I do in my life are to challenge and push my capabilities and it’s where I thrive.

Bex – I am lucky to have a number of proud moments to date such as passing out to become a firefighter in my old age of 37 and competing for my country in 4 different sports. However the one that will always stay with me was becoming world champion and world record holder in the sport of ‘surf lifesaving’ back in 2000 when I was 18. I went to the world champs in Sydney for experience and a goal of making one final so it was a surreal experience that I’ll never forget! 

Alison – This is a tough one. I am not a particularly proud person and don’t like putting myself out there. But I think it’s getting to where I am in the fire service and achieving it through hard work not because I am a woman. I would like to think I haven’t changed much through the process and I remember where I have come from. 

Nakita – Difficult one to answer! I’m proud of a lot of things, I want to keep pushing my limits. At the moment I’m extremely proud of the Team and all we have achieved, even through these difficult times. 

George – Oooo, tricky because I tend to be proud of things as and when they happen but if I had to nail something, it would be getting this amazing team together. 

Q3. Who would you most like to go for a drink with?

Alison – Oh dear. I want to say someone really intelligent and highbrow like Stephen Fry but he’s just too clever. But I would rather have a good laugh so Noel Fielding or Freddie Flintoff. 

Bex – Holly Willoughby.

Nikki – Chris Hemsworth – no explanation necessary!

Nakita – Oooo! For laughs Russell Howard! What a funny night that would be.

Beci – Ohhh loads. Can I have a party? David Attenborough, Tim Minchin, Dave Grohl, Hollie McNish, Caitlin Moran, Billy Connolly Michael Sheen, Ewan McGregor, Jodie Whittaker, Daisy Ridley, Brian Cox, Eric Idle, Mark Hamill, John Cusack, Ryan Reynolds, Max Boyce, Matt Haig…I mean, can we pick dead people too?!

George – Now that falls into categories for me;
Stalker fan – Emily Blunt.
Brain fuel – Stephen Fry and Sandi Toksvig.
Just to breath the same air as them – Dame Maggie Smith. 

Q4. Who are your heroes?

Bex – Sharon Davies – swimmer/presenter.

George – Fictional – Wonder Woman. Real life- Lowri Morgan

Nakita – I’ve been inspired by parents, their careers and the struggles they went through. Possibly basing my life on wanting to become a real life Lara Croft!

Beci – My grandparents. They are/were all such strong people.

Alison – Easy, Haile Gerbresalassie is my running hero. Usain Bolt would be up there too. What they have both achieved in the world of athletics is unbelievable, they’ve really made it a global sport and have inspired lots of people from very poor backgrounds. 

Nikki – Um tough one – my parents have always been incredible role models to me, showing how love and kindness will always prevail. Fictional hero someone like Katniss Everdeen – proper badass gal. Sporting heroes include Jenson Button & Rebecca Addlington.

Q5. What job would you be terrible at?

George – Any ball sport coaching.

Nakita – I think anything to do with sitting at a computer and selling something over the phone…I would probably convince them not to buy it!

Alison – A librarian as I can be very loud. I would be the one who would be told off all the time!

Bex – Surgeon – too heavy handed! 

Beci – A Teacher.

Nikki – Something really analytical and clever like an air-traffic controller – my brain would be fried!

Q6. What job did you want to do when you were younger?

Nakita – I wanted to join the Army and my parents had lined up Sandhurst for me. Stupidly I didn’t do it. It is one of my “what if” moments! 

George – Royal Navy or Army, BUT doing all the things the men did. Back then we weren’t allowed as women to do all the exciting things. 

Bex – An Olympian and a marine biologist. 

Nikki – I wanted to be a vet until I learnt that I’d have to stick my hand up cows bums!

Alison – Police Officer and I also wanted to join the RAF to be a PTI. I also thought about physiotherapy.

Beci – Firefighter and be a Blue Peter presenter. I still *really* want a badge…

Hope you’ve enjoyed this instalment of Q & A with the Fire Angels, there is plenty more to come whilst we remain in lockdown.

For those of you who haven’t already seen it there is a lovely video from Bex on her daily exercise talking about lockdown, how she is coping, what changes it has made to her routines and why we should all stay at home. (Click on picture for video).

Remember, Stay Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives.

Written by Elissa

Antarctic Fire Angels; Q and A. (1)

As a bit of a shake up myself and the team went out on social media to see if anyone had any questions for us. A few we have answered directly but some needed a bit more detail and focus; having had a good think about their answers I’ve put some of it together for you to have a read as a mini blog. There will be more to come over the coming weeks and months but here are a few to keep you going…

Q1. In the toughest moments; what will each of you focus upon and draw upon to keep going?

Nikki – In tough moments I usually draw upon the mantra of ‘this too shall pass’. I think to myself ‘time will pass, this will end and at some point I’ll look back at this moment with pride’. It really does help!

Bex – Just knowing that I would have these moments and that I had trained 3 years for this would help me cope in those tough times. But also I would need a few moments of ‘me time’ to pull myself together, listen to a few good tunes and think about my family and how I wouldn’t want to let them down.

George – In my toughest moments, I bury myself in thoughts like; What I want today, to stop and go home, is different to what I want to achieve in the future; success and Antarctica resilience. Or I draw upon my favourite poem;

Self Pity by DH Lawrence
I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.

Alison – In my toughest moments I will think of how lucky I am to be doing what I am doing and think of all the people less fortunate, or physically unable to take part in a challenge like ours. I often think of my father who passed just over 2 years ago and how proud he would have been to see me do this. He was always my biggest fan and encouraged me to try different things.

Beci – For me it will be the knowledge that every step forward is a step towards home. A step towards the person I want to become and the goal I want to complete. “So far you’ve survived 100% of your toughest days… you’re doing great”.

Nakita – I have been through some tough moments throughout my life. Each time I was determined not to let these negative and painful moments defeat me. I would beat this, I would come out stronger and wiser, with the knowledge to help those I saw going through similar situations.

When my brother was serving in Afghanistan it was an extremely difficult time for my family. Fear is a dangerous monster that if allowed, will consume you whole. We had given my brother a small card with a poem on to carry, to read when he needed it. I now have the exact card in a frame as I walk in the door. So what would you do if you had no fear? Me? I’m off to the Antarctic!

Don’t Quit by John Greenleaf Whittier
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Q2. What is your favourite book?

George – Johnathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

Nikki – Harry Potter (all of them!)

Nakita – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Alison – The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

Beci – I don’t have a favourite book. It’s impossible to choose just one but I am currently reading Motherhood by Tetyana Denford.

Bex – I don’t read books so don’t have one.

Q3. If you could have a superpower what would it be?

Bex – To be invisible.

George – If I told you I’d have to kill you. But probably something to do with the mind.

Alison – Being able to run at supersonic speed. 

Nakita – Hmmm such a hard one! I’d like to be like Captain Marvel! 

Nikki – Being able to fly.

Beci – Being able to fly but also to be totally badass with it like Captain Marvel.

Q4. What is your favourite film?

Alison – Pulp Fiction.

Nakita – The Fifth Element.

Bex – The Beach.

George – So many to chose from! Probably any Bond film or any Emily Blunt film.

Nikki – Home Alone.

Bex – It is really hard to choose just one. Can we split it into Genres? If I had to pick it would be Star Wars. 

Q5. What is your guilty pleasure?

Nakita – Binge watching the Walking Dead.

Bex – Watching a place in the sun.

Alison – Watching First Dates. I love it! And my other one is Elvis.

George – Eating Turkish delight, in a oner. 

Nikki – Twiglets…and most snacks!

Beci – Watching Call The Midwife. I love it; watching it feels like a hug. 

Q6. How will you celebrate achieving your goal and who do you want there with you when you do and why?

Nakita – There is going to be a welcome home party which we will be having limited tickets for! 
Of course I want my immediate family (if possible my dogs!), my watch and close friends there and I guess Jay Morton from SAS Who Dares Wins seeing as he is trying so hard to find me on tinder…!
I think eating all the foods we’ve missed and just being in something that isn’t expedition kit will be a real treat! It could possibly be the last time for a while we are all together as a team so I’d want to make the most of it, as I know after what we will have been through I will really miss them.

Alison – It would involve a day of pampering first; hair, nails and full body massage. Putting on a fabulous dress and a pair of high shoes (if my feet can take it). A party with curry and Indian food which I love. Dancing and drinking with my husband, family and friends and all those who’ve supported us. And if I could get an Elvis impersonator to sing that would be the icing on the cake….And then go and lie on a beach for two weeks. 

Nikki – Obviously it’s got to be a massive party with everyone there, but I also think I’d like to follow that up with smaller dinners with just me and my loved ones, and I think my own personal celebration will be when all the hype has died down – a night all cosy in my flat with a glass of Prosecco in one hand and a tub of twiglets in the other, reflecting on what a mad journey it’s been.

George – I would want my partner there for sure in Punta Arenas and then to get back home asap to see the dogs and smother them in hugs! Party wise, yes exclusive invites from back home and of course sponsors, but considering I’m not someone who has a long list of pals, my invite list would be quite short! 

Beci – I’ll want to see my husband and the kids on our return first and foremost. I think I’ll need quiet time to come back around to “normality” and do some reflection.When it comes to a celebration I’d want the other fire angels and all the wonderful people who have supported us to achieve that goal in whatever capacity at the party. And of course for there to be LOADS of food!

Rebecca – I would want a shower then to see my partner and have a beer, follow by seeing my dog! Then a party to see all my family and friends and eat the food I want and drink what I want.

We hope you enjoyed a little insight into the minds of our Antarctic Fire Angels with the above questions and a big thank you to those who asked then. There will be lots more to come so make sure you keep coming back!

To finish off, here is a little video treat from Nakita all about lockdown and what she is doing to help herself through it. Click on the picture to view.

Remember; stay in, protect the NHS and save lives.

Written by Elissa.

Antarctic Fire Angels; Lockdown Begins. (Week 10 and 11)

Week ending 29th March and 5th April

So here we are folks, in lockdown. It was something we knew was coming at some point and quite rightly too. Whether we think it was soon enough is a different matter but we are where we are now and we will ride this out together. Personally I can’t remember a time when everyone came together like they are during this; from the clapping on Thursday evenings to thank our heroes on the front line, to neighbours helping those who are vulnerable, FaceTiming family and friends and actually ‘seeing’ then more than ever. We are all pulling together in a way that is truly beautiful and it gives me some hope for humanity.

Team WAFA
Much like the rest of us in the country and indeed the world, the team is adapting and making the most of everything this world has to offer at the moment. For George it’s all about taking in the surroundings and perhaps taking on a new perspective. She feels very lucky to live where she does right now, in the countryside. It is something she has always taken for granted but with lockdown continuing for the foreseeable future she is certainly making the most of it now.

It’s the little things, like taking in the sights and sounds, the birds seem louder on her daily exercise and even seem to be getting cheeky and brave around humans when they see them. It is almost like nature knows the human race is in some sort of difficulty, which or course, it is. #escapethepandemic is the hashtag the team are using when training because it’s important that we do that, escape it, for even a short period of time, everyday. Training is pretty much all there is at the moment so they are going to use this opportunity to keep going; hoping to emerge fitter, stronger and have a bigger appreciation of what we have and what we could have lost.

In a similar vein Alison has been pushing the training forward and managed to track down and buy a ski track trainer. It is from the 1990’s and they are really hard to get hold of and it was even in full working order too.

Her husband is not hugely pleased as it started life in the dining room but she is able to move it around and will be able to use it in the garden, which is what she has been doing. Check out the picture and if you want to see a short clip of Alison in action, click on it to take you to the AFA Instagram page.

Like the rest of us Alison is getting used to working from home and video calling; it is still nice to be able to see people’s faces even though we can’t go and see them at the moment. She has been putting music on to try and cheer up those who walk past when in the office too. It is also the realisation for most of us that we can’t just pop and see our family; birthdays, like Alison’s Grandson’s are celebrated by FaceTime or Zoom or Skype, whichever you use. For those who have elderly relatives like Alison’s Mum it is a daily phone call to check in. Altogether Alison has had 4 family birthday’s and her own wedding anniversary during lockdown; the family are already calling for a party at her house when lockdown is lifted. We hope we’re all invited?!

Beci has had a difficult time, the mood went from good and positive to anxious and frustrated children but they worked through it together as a family and are now back to some sort of ‘normal. Like all of us we are trying to find some sort of new normal with lockdown and those who have children are also home schooling at the same time. For Beci the day’s are; children’s PE wth Joe Wicks, yoga, ‘school’, lunch, more school work and then a long walk with the dog. Along with FaceTiming friends and family, dinner and bedtime it doesn’t leave much time for training. But we must all do what we can to get through this. Check out Beci on a family walk with the tyres and the children…click away.

She has also volunteered to help the Welsh Ambulance Service in whatever capacity she can through this very strange and difficult time. But she is still smiling and the family still dance in the kitchen and that is fantastic, because for those of you have followed from the start you will know how amazing it is for Beci to be dealing with all of this in the way that she is. It will be a fantastic learning base to see how well she copes with change and challenges on the road to Antarctica.

Team LAFA
After Nakita returned to work from the week of training with HART it felt like the world has been turned upside down. Everything was changing in order to keep the firefighters and community safe and with all the information about the virus coming in thick and fast it was all quite overwhelming. Knowing that two members of the household where her family are come under the high risk category she knew she had to make the call that she wasn’t going to be able to see them for the foreseeable. It sunk in that living on her own with her dogs at her parents it was going to be a tough ride. The first day off she got was totally surreal but as always she kept herself going and tried to keep herself motivated; not watching too much TV and eat everything she could out of boredom. (Believe me, I know the feeling and I don’t have such willpower to step away from the snacks…)

The closing of gyms really hit Nikki as she had just got back in to her stride after the ‘shark bite’ but it is 100% the right thing to do for the country and humanity so she is going to try and improvise. Having redone her training schedule to include home workouts alongside the workouts they can still do at work plus the tyre dragging she is in a much better place.

Mother’s Day was difficult, she managed to go on a long walk with her mum and step-dad staying 2 metres apart which was very strange and Nikki came home to the news that her step-mum was in hospital; a hugely worrying time, not virus related and she is now home and well. I guess it was more around the principle of not being able to sit with people when they need you most, not being able to hold their hands when they are in pain, that must be the hardest part of all this. It puts everything into perspective, the current situation, and hopefully will make everyone a little kinder when lockdown is lifted.

Nikki has been focusing on how she will stay sane whilst cooped up in her flat alone for a few days at a time. Luckily she can still go to work, so unless she has to self isolate the most she will be int he flat is just over 3 days but even that stresses her out. Keeping mental health in a good place is a huge deal and never more so than right now, so she came up with some rules to help her; turning the radio on in the morning instead of the TV and making sure she does exercise in the morning to start her day off well. They might not seem like big things but this is what works for Nikki, we all know ourselves well enough to know what helps our mental health and what doesn’t.

Be kind to yourself during lockdown. And why not listen to Nikki talk about how she is coping with lockdown during her daily exercise, click on her photo and it will take you to the video clip.

Obviously given the current lockdown all the team events have been cancelled, including the London Half Marathon, the Blue Light Stair Run, Harlequins Game Changer, The British Firefighters Challenge and all team training. Thank you to anyone who donated extra to see the guys run the London Half in their full fire kit, maybe next year? And yes this is right for the situation we are in, absolutely, there is no quibble or quarrel about that, and the guys will keep training and keep pushing so that when lockdown is lifted they are fit and ready to go. If anything, this is an ironic practise run of the isolation they will face in Antarctica.

Join us again for the next blog, follow us on social media, spread the word and remember, stay safe, stay in, protect the NHS and help save lives. We applaud every single person who is a key worker, every single one of you who get up each morning and put yourself at risk, go to work to help the country and keep it going. We salute you.

Written by Elissa.

Pre-Lockdown. (Week 9)

Week ending 20th March

So the blog has finally caught up with the rest of the world and we are just about to enter lockdown. As you are aware our Fire Angels are key workers as firefighters so their world doesn’t really change, if anything it gets more complicated, harder and busier. One big change will be how they train and when, we are allowed one form of exercise per day so in the coming weeks and months we will find out what changes they have made and any improvisation they have done to keep training in lockdown and all whilst social distancing. I have a feeling that the tyres will be involved somehow…

This does bring me on to another important factor; given that events are postponed including fundraising and big training events for the guys it will mean that there will not be as much for us to blog about for the foreseeable future. We have however decided to keep this going, keeping you up to date, giving hints and tips where we can on how to deal with lockdown, what exercise you can do and what routines they are getting in to in order to keep them mentally fit too.

Team LAFA
For Nikki as the week developed she started to feel really weird about the situation, as I am sure we all did. When this all first started it was hard to get into some sort of routine for most of us and the team are no different; like Nikki most of us are quite happy in our own little bubble going about day to day life and then when something like this hits it is very hard to process. A tip, don’t read the news and media too much in the day, in fact if you can, try and have one day away from it entirely, you can genuinely drive yourself crazy with it. If you are like me then some of us need to start social distancing from the fridge and the biscuit tin, but these guys have much more drive and motivation than I do!

To overcome the weird feeling Nikki got up and did a savage 40 minute workout that included 150 burpees and at the end of it all she felt much better, in fact her whole perspective had changed on the situation. In her own words Nikki says; ‘I really do use exercise for my mental health – it makes me happy and I feel more like myself, ready to take on the world!’ Although it may not be for all of us, if exercise helps your mental health, try and keep it going whilst on lockdown. Look after your physical and mental health as best you can.

Before social distancing kicked in Nikki and her friend Emily went tyre dragging around Thursley Common. It is the perfect place for Nikki as it is close to home and the terrain is a mixture of sand and trail, whilst being mostly flat but a fair few hills in to challenge you too.

They managed to cover 6.4km in 2 hours and it got really tough. Both Emily and her Mum, who came along for the session, all had a go at pulling the tyres; Emily’s mum did brilliantly before handing the tyres back declaring they were crazy! The whole session felt really great, check out the picture of Nikki in action.

Nakita had a training session with the HART Team in Wales, Llangollen. She had a great week even if it was freezing cold. It was good to have something to occupy her mind as she has been thinking a lot about the stress of not being at home and able to help her family. It also meant taking another week away from training and working on the expedition and the AFA schedule.

It is that constant balance of finding enough time for work, training, fundraising events and some time for yourself too. Kudos to the team for keeping calm and carrying on.

Team WAFA
For George it is certainly different to last week with all her presentations and meetings. It has been a quiet week so far, just one meeting about setting up the social enterprise and she has also decided to go for her mountain leader qualifications which means she can take customers up mountains safely and puts her on the road to leading winter and polar expedition. Sounds phenomenal and will add another string to her already very full bow! But now back to that meeting, her and Alison met up with Rhys from ‘Social Business Wales’ to explore their ideas about setting up a social enterprise so that they can offer up some training, development and leadership opportunities to other groups of people. They have some work to do in order to write the strategy but Rhys thought it was a great idea and really liked the challenge they are undertaking along with getting schools involved, pretty sure there will be more invites in the post for them soon.

The current situation the world is in has meant a setback with fundraising but it is temporary and there will be many more exciting fundraising events planned in the future. The team is understandably very quiet, taking it all in like the rest of us. However trying to keep some sort of normality in life means that with gyms closing Alison looked in to what equipment she could get delivered to her house so that the training doesn’t take a back seat in the coming months. Exercise for the team is a great way to destress and keep mentally healthy, Alison also finds it a great way to empty her head space and sometimes helps her come up with solutions to complex problems she has been battling with. So for the foreseeable future they will be re-thinking their training routines, with only one allowance a day for exercise outside the rest will be improvisation and home gyms.

For Alison, now she is back in to her work and play lifestyle she decided to try her hand at dragging the tyres for the first time. She went for an hour around the local park and got some very strange looks and of course some people wanted to know why she was doing it. Alison told people all about the expedition and, obviously, people were really interested. It makes sense for the guys to get their logos on their training kit and maybe some business cards to give out to people so they can stay in the loop over the coming years. As for the actual tyre dragging it was pretty hard, she tells me you can feel the change in the surface and notice the smallest incline, great to practise the technique and keep fitness up.

For those of you who follow the team and myself on social media you will know that they guys have started to film a few bits and pieces, mainly to say hello and how they are coping with the lockdown along with some hints and tops to keep yourself mentally and physically healthy.

Stayed tuned for more to come but as a starter here is founder and team leader for LAFA, Nakita. (Click the picture for the video).


Stay Safe. Stay At Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.

Written by Elissa

Another Week, Another Tyre Drag. (Week 8)

Week ending 13th March

Team WAFA
Alison has returned from her much needed holiday, 2 weeks away and 6lbs heavier she informs me. She managed to use the gym on board and keep at the weights and running, apparently running whilst on rough sea is interesting and a challenge. Imagine the core muscles you need to do that? Running on a treadmill, in a gym, on a boat in the sea; fabulous!

Given that she didn’t have access to social media it means she is also playing catch up with all the activity she missed whilst being away. For her it’s great to see what the team have achieved and that they have been as busy as always whilst she has been away.

Also this week George and Alison went to Eveswell Primary School where they presented to a fantastic bunch of 50 children who were all very interested in the Antarctic and their planned expedition. Thank you and a huge well done to all those involved! Now you might remember I mentioned the DSET (Defence Simulation Education and Training) conference that George was presenting at? Well her week was pretty much consumed by just that. She was presenting on Innovation to roughly 200 MOD personnel; her presentation was called ‘Communicate to Innovate’ and was all about the rare art of communication and how it can help with change and therefore innovation becomes more organic rather than forced. A fantastic few days but it really took it out of George meaning that her training suffered slightly.

George at the DSET conference with fellow heroes and speakers flying the flag for the AFA!

Team LAFA
Nikki, Nakita and Rebecca had a meeting with their Deputy Assistant Commissioner and Comms department to discuss how the AFA and LFB can move forward together such as media training to be able to handle sensitive issues in the press. It was hugely positive and they are excited to be on the same page going forward.

Nikki also finally met with Owen who is going to be their web designer. She was given the task of deciding how they wanted the website to work and what needed to be on it. Taking the lead in the meeting with Owen she got very animated talking about what the team would want, and like any good designer, when he explained everything back to her she could imagine the website coming to life. Combine that with Nikki’s friend who has just returned from Australia who will writing the content it sounds like a force to be reckoned with!

Despite busy work schedules LAFA actually managed to go for a collective tyre dragging session. They went out on Epsom Downs for two and a half hours covering 7.7km and dragging 2 tyres each; they even took along Nikki’s best friend Emily who is also a firefighter at Chelsea. Nikki shot off like a rocket and had to be reminded by Rebecca to slow down, the key is slow and steady so they can maintain the drag for longer. Something for Nikki to work on over the coming years and I’m sure she will have it down to a fine art by 2023!


One thing that stuck out for Rebecca whilst they were walking single file dragging the tyres was the stark reality of what could lie ahead, many lonely hours. Just think about that, the freezing temperatures, the long days and nights, the constant movement and the battle against the elements and themselves. It will be a long hard battle but the more they practise now the easier it will be when they get there.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind for Nakita and it has made her realise how important it is to remove toxic people from your life. Keep your circle strong and positive. Right now is the time to make sure they are planning fitness regimes properly and preparing for the pulk pull. LAFA had a team meeting where they went over their availability for the next 6 months and it made them realise how difficult it is going to be to train together as a London team let alone a whole team! Motivation is key to going out alone along with organisation and communication with the rest of the team, and of course not being concerned about looking like a weirdo pulling tyres around behind you…!

The team have also had a film company approach them, still all very early stages but so exciting to know that their story and expedition is getting out there. If this does become a film documentary it will potentially raise thousands for charity. How incredible would that be?

It is easy to sit and read this and think that the guys are just training every now and then, have time to go out and see family and friends and work casual shifts but you’d be very wrong. You have to remember how much of their own leave the team are using to train and are even planning to take sabbaticals to make this expedition happen. It is not easy and there is never enough time to fit everything in. It is going to be hard, so hard and sacrifices will have to be made along with a constant balancing act of work, family, friends, training and having fun. That is important, to have fun, you have to take a break sometimes from the relentless regime and rat race of life.

Last week we looked at the different videos and articles the team had released on IWD2020, some I didn’t include we on the ‘We Are The City’ website who are working closely with our team. Take a look at their pages dedicated to the inspirational women you might just recognise some of those faces and names as our very own AFA. https://wearethecity.com/category/inspirational-profiles/isw-public-sector/. How truly humbling for me to be involved with such a fantastic team, it is so important to celebrate women in this way and those that support them in achieving all they can.

Remember that these guys are raising money for their charities and you can donate on their GoFundMe page – https://www.gofundme.com/f/antarctic-fire-angels. A great way to do this is also to purchase that fantastic top from The Good Wash Company, one has even been shipped to Australia! If you have one, post a picture of yourself below or on social media and make sure you tag the guys, they’d love to see them.

Written by Elissa.

International Women’s Day. (Week 7)

Week ending 8th March 2020

Team LAFA
You might recall last week I talked about Rebecca doing a piece with Harlequins all around International Women’s Day, well go and take a look at the video (click the picture) that’s out for everyone to see.

As all of our team are inspirational women it seems, quite rightly, they were all involved in IWD2020 in some way. Nakita, Rebecca and Nikki did a separate piece for the London Fire Brigade; why not take a look to find out from the guys themselves, what the challenge is and why they are doing this challenge; https://www.instagram.com/p/B9eFd6ojb-W/

In other day to day news, Nikki had her occupational health appointment at work and after completing various exercises with a BA set on her back to demonstrate that her leg could handle it, she has finally been approved to go back to work! She also did a CrossFit induction which means she can get membership at the gym; CrossFit is totally different and she feels it really challenges her, it is amazing preparation for what he will be putting her body through over the next few years. She has also managed to acquire 3 weighted vests from Gravity who are kindly donating them to the team, this is a huge help and great addition to the training days. Like the training isn’t difficult enough already…!

Nakita was involved in LACE training this week on her 2 days off, she loves training in line rescue so had a great time. Check out the picture to the right of Nakita and the team on the training days.

Away from the training and work she also went on her first date in a long time, she might have been nervous but if she can go to the Antarctic she can go on a date, right?

Apart from that Nakita’s training took a bit of a back burner this week as her car needed an MOT but she went for long walks with her youngest dog instead and after 5km he started limping. It wasn’t worth the risk to continue so she called for an emergency evacuation! Pup is fine now but had her worried. She also had some people try and throw negativity into her arena, and that 100% is not going to happen. She has no problem removing those who are negative or try and dull the shine. Life is about helping each other, being supportive and working together. Talking of supportive, don’t forget that although we are celebrating National Women’s Day this week these guys have plenty of men who are there every step of the way to lifted them up…quite literally! (See pic).

Team WAFA
For International Women’s Day at South Wales Fire and Rescue HQ George was invited to speak on the day about what it means to us as women, the service and the wider audience. Beci joined her which was great, it’s always lovely to have some moral support when doing these things. George also got to introduce Lowri Morgan who is an inspiration to us all, what endurance event she hasn’t done isn’t worth knowing! She is absolutely amazing and the team hope they do her proud and follow in her footsteps someday. 

On top of that George is still getting ready for the DSET conference next week where she is presenting to the military amongst other representatives on innovation and communication. It has been quite a bit of pressure to produce something that represents the team AFA and the service but 11th March will be judgement day for all the hard work she has put in. Also on the day there will be an official hand over announcing the team as their 2021 charity of the year!

The 3rd was George’s birthday and she spent the day at Techniquest presenting to 5×50 children all about the Expedition; how to tow tyres, what the weather is like and how dry it is and also how they will go to the toilet out in Antarctica! Talking of towing tyres she has been doing lots of that with the dogs and they love it.

This was all rounded off by a lovely meal in the evening in Penarth. Thank you George, you are truly inspirational. Happy Birthday/
Penblwydd Hapus!

Just as a reminder, the launch of the Good Wash products happened and you need to take a look at the amazing top available? (Don’t forget to go and buy one). There was also the launch of some amazing deals from KitTags UK. They did a run of freebie tags when you donated £10 to the GoFundMe Page. They might all be gone now, but head over to the KitTag website and take a look, you’ll never lose your luggage or bags again with these tags.

Finally, some of you may have heard of Kay Hallsworth, she is co-owner of Explorers Coffee who sponsor our Fire Angels. More importantly she is also Commander Kay Hallsworth of the Royal Navy and she was shortlisted for Women in Defence Unsung Heroes Award! She’s been in the Royal Navy for over 27 years, progressing from student nurse to Commander and Kay also has ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). I found an inspiring and interesting article on her here; https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2019/05/03/personal-disability-stories-10-kays-story/

Hope you are all feeling inspired, whether you are a woman or support one in life, keep doing what you’re doing! In light of the current situation in our country and the world, just a reminder. Stay Safe. Stay In.

Written by Elissa

The Times 2. (Week 6)

(Week ending 28th Feb 2020)

Biggest news this week was the release of the Times2 interview that the team did a few weeks back. They were so impressed with the article and you couldn’t miss it, a whole two page spread inside The Times. For those of you who did miss it you can find it here on the official website; https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-female-firefighters-bidding-to-conquer-antarctica-s98nprdqn

It showcased the team with some amazing pictures and the article itself was powerful and reinforced the positive reasons for this expedition. Reasons for why they want to do this vary but I liked these wise words from Alison – ‘I’m a granny and I want to leave a legacy, I want my grandchildren to know that women can go anywhere and do anything if they put their minds to it’ and as Nakita points out in the article, no one has this life down to a fine art, no one is 100% certain of how everything will turn out. We just have to keep calm and carry on. ‘There’s no such thing as a mentally super-fit person. Not in life and certainly not int he fire-service. You do your very best on the scene at the time, but you’re only human; things come back to haunt you. Why did this disaster happen? On this expedition we want to show that you can suffer adverse events professionally and personally, but still achieve something incredible as a team.’

Team LAFA
In other news, Nikki has been desperately trying to get back to her peak physical fitness after the ‘shark bite’ incident and is still awaiting her medical to give her the go ahead to get back to work. It’s been a fairly quiet week due to that, going on a 20km walk with her mum who is 64 but very active and super keen on joining in as many walks as possible so that they can spend some time together.

Having had her walking boots for over 12 years which were falling apart Nikki decided to treat herself to a new pair and even got a bargain for a pair at £89 down from £180! With all the kit the team have to buy over the coming years, every saving is a bonus.

Sticking with the training, Rebecca started tyre pulling and boy was it hard work! With one hour at a time to get used to it it has made her realise that there is a lot of training to be done before they are ready to tackle the Antarctic. On a positive side it is hugely exciting for the team to get the specific training underway and ensure they are fit and ready for 2023.

With International Women’s Day coming up, and our team being just that, truly inspirational, Rebecca had an interview with Harlequins Rugby Club. You might remember she used to play for the club before her injury so it was lovely for her to have some involvement still and be asked to do this video piece for such an important day.

Team WAFA
George had a crazy busy week; first off she has been in contact with Helen Turton of ‘Newland Expeditions’ to plan and set the date for the team’s Norway training next year. The pressure now being to fundraise to cover the deposit as soon as possible; with her constant drive to get things done it has been frustrating for her not being able to get everything booked and sorted immediately. Despite that, it is SUPER exciting and the team can’t wait for the trip. Second on the list she has been in discussions with NatWest to go on to their pre-accelerator programme which would give them access to hubs for meetings instead of the usual coffee shops and also business links that we would never have otherwise thought of.

Along side that she has been busy sorting out her presentation for ‘Techniquest’ on 3rd March which will see 5 groups of 50 children pull a sled of 85kg! It will be a long day and it is also her birthday that day, she will have earned a treat a two by the end of the day. Not to mention the 25 minute PowerPoint presentation to write for the DSET conference later in March and writing her speech for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service International Women’s Day; this woman is a machine!

The Goodwash Company that have been mentioned a fair few times before are working with the AFA team, sorting out product lines to sell which will help raise funds for the team too. How amazing is that?!

Technically this was launched for International Women’s Day which is the week after this blogs events, but as it’s so incredible I think i’ll let it slip in!

If you haven’t already seen the top or purchased it, first off, why not?! Secondly, click the imagine and go and get yourself one of these beautiful tops!

Don’t forget to keep donating on the GoFundMe page and i’ve dropped another picture below shot by the amazing photographer Gareth Iwan Jones from the Times2; this is the training these guys are putting in. When we come home and think about what’s for dinner or think about sitting on the sofa and what to watch on TV, they are pulling tyres over beaches and muddy park land. They are pushing themselves to the limit enough to know that when this expedition comes they will have done everything they can to showcase what they as firefighters, women, grandmothers, mothers, daughters can do. I said it in the first blog and I’ll say it again, this is all out girl power pushing boundaries; when people say ‘but women can’t do that’ they are saying ‘yes we can!’.

Written by Elissa.

Be Kind. Always. (Week 5)

(Week ending 21st Feb 2020)

Team WAFA
This week has sadly been a bit of a write off training wise for the WAFA’s as it was all about their day jobs. It all started this week with the horrific weather I am sure we have all encountered and with Wales experiencing the worst flooding it has had in decades; this meant that Beci spent Sunday trying to help people locally in the immediate aftermath and the following days getting aid to those who needed it most. Alison was also involved with helping those effected by the floods and has also been fighting off a chest infection which unfortunately seems to be winning at the moment; she is off on a two week holiday so hoping to rest and recuperate. Although the holiday is playing on her mind because it means that her training will potentially suffer and being the oldest of the group she doesn’t want to slip behind. We are with you all the way Alison!

On Friday George, Beci and Alison had a meeting with Donna and Jenna discussing how the team can give some development opportunities to Fire Cadets and Volunteers in South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and how they could help with some fundraising. It was hugely productive and both Donna and Jenna were blown away with what the team have already put in place and the plans for the challenge ahead. For Alison it’s an interesting situation when she tells someone all about their expedition because in her head it doesn’t seem such a big challenge, that is until she sees the reaction from someone else! I guess that is what brings it home to them, it reminds them all that what they are working up to is truly phenomenal.

Alison also managed to sort out some old fire kit that couldn’t be reused and along with George collected it from stores to be used to make the bears for the schools talks. Do you guys remember Elizabeth Sews? She uses old clothing to make memorable and special bears; she will be using the old kit along with some uniform from each school to get a bespoke bear made for each school talk.

Aside from all the flooding, George did manage to get some training in and actually went on a 4 hour tyre drag…yes, 4 hours! Check out the picture to the left; that’s George on her tyre drag at Merthyr Mawr. Don’t forget all of this is to simulate the feeling of pulling the sled that the team will have to pull whilst in the Antarctic.

On this epic trek, George just so happened to have a little mishap which she wrote a poem about and we love it;
‘I wandered lonely as a cloud
Dragging my tyres, oh so proud.
Then there came a terrible smell
Yes I thought, I know that wiff well.
I’d dragged my tyres through some poo
But oddly thankful it wasn’t on my shoe.’

It has also been a hard week for all of us, well all of us who understand that this world needs to change; I am of course talking about the heartbreaking and tragic news of Caroline Flack. There is so much that could be said and yet I feel it is all too little too late, especially for Caroline. The journey most of us are on in this world is long and hard, you have to keep going and keep your head up when faced with tragedy and sorrow. You have to remember that not every day is easy, not every day reminds you that it is worth it but it is SO important to talk to people. Talk to friends and family about how you are feeling, don’t hide behind the fake smiles and chat; we all have demons that sit waiting in our darkest thoughts, waiting for you to fall back into the sea of black that pulls you under. To think that taking her own life is the only choice Caroline had is truly horrific and so so tragic, my heart goes out to her, her friends and family. And for this amazing group of women it has hit home that raising awareness of all mental health issues is something that needs to happen.

Team LAFA
Nikki went for a walk around Devil’s Punchbowl this week for a bit of training with her friend and her twins (who also happen to be Nikki’s goddaughters) in rucksacks on our backs (see picture). They are over 10kg each so this was a great way to train until she can acquire some weighted vests!

She has also been working on the website design, how it should look, what needs to be on there, what it needs to say so that when they sit down with the designer they are ready to go full steam ahead.

All this has helped take Nikki’s mind off her ‘shark bite’. Having had a medical at work this week she was told she was not allowed back due to her significant injury and that her body needs time to heal. The next medical is 2nd March and she is hoping for the green light! As frustrating as it is for Nikki to want to get back at it, she knows that she must make sure her body is fully recovered.

Nakita has been training hard with the guys at work who have been an amazing support and inspiration; after registering at a new gym she is ready to go full throttle. You may have already seen that Team LAFA released the news that they are going to take part in the London Half Marathon on 29th March 2020 and if you manage to get their GoFundMe Page above £2,000 they will do it in full fire gear! So what are you waiting for? Click the link to donate; https://www.gofundme.com/f/antarctic-fire-angels

This week I will leave you with the words that have been all over social media and are so apt; ‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind. Always.’

Written by Elissa.

Skiing in Scotland! (Week 4)

(Week ending 14th Feb 2020)

It’s been a busy week for the team with the main focus being on their weekend away in Scotland learning how to Nordic Ski. It was also the first time that the team had “lived” together. Which was something they were really looking forward to, with busy lives and work schedules it is hard to find time out to do these events together. They all found the time away a great bonding session, given that they had only ever met once before as a team it was a real step forward in cementing the AFA family. Beci has taken the role as team chef making sure the team were fed and watered and Rebecca was bin lady and furniture mover extraordinaire!

Team LAFA all stayed together in preparation for a 4am drive to Heathrow, ouch! They got there in great time and were slightly nervous that they hadn’t heard from the WAFAs but they knew they were staying local to the airport and were sure they were all safe and sound. Hopefully they got an extra hour in bed or maybe they were helping Alison fit everything in to her suitcase?! The full AFA team reunited at gate 5 ready for the flight. Nakita had the new team jackets with their logo ready and George had gilets from Mountain equipment ready too. They all looked very professional and felt like they were part of a proper team.

Once in Scotland their first trip was to Tesco to fill 2 trolley’s up with all the essentials they needed for the long weekend before heading to their beautiful cottage; no wi-fi and slightly off grid which certainly helped them all focus on the days ahead.

The skiing was full on and although the team were up to the physical challenge they certainly all felt it mentally as it took such concentration. It has helped them look at, amend and tweak their training plans to ensure they are ready for the longer skis ahead. Over all the weather was pretty kind to them with only a bit of rain and some high winds. For the Fire Angels, day one was all about learning the basics; getting moving and staying up right, which is pretty key in all of this! They were moving up and down a 25 metre track initially and then going around a track before hitting a ski slope in the afternoon. Alison had a big fall which bruised not only her ego but her bottom! She had previously expressed her concern at not being able to keep up with the team but the instructors were really lovely and showed a lot of patience. It was a mixed ability group of 16 people it was great to support each other on what ended up being a more physically and mentally challenging course than they all imagined.

Day two was all about working on the technique, to try and glide better and use the poles correctly. Alison was a bit sore from the fall the day before so sat it out with Nikki, who you might remember couldn’t really take part due to her ‘shark bite’. The guys really felt like the Sunday consolidated everything they had learnt and that they had made huge improvements from the day before. It has also made them realise what a monumental task they have ahead of them over the coming years; they are already putting the time and effort in ten fold and now they know they’ve just got to keep going.

Also you might recall that Beci had to deal with the guilt of leaving her family for the weekend, especially as it was her daughter’s birthday on the Sunday. She managed to hold it all together, that was, until she saw a rainbow. Her daughter is a rainbow baby and owns a lot of rainbow clothes which triggered the guilt and emotion all over again and she ended up crying on all the girls. As always they were a great support to each other and really helped Beci through the day and as a team they all went for a lovely walk in the forestry together. Baring in mind that this was the most amount of time they had all spent together it really was an ideal 4 days for them to get to know more about individual personalities and learnt a lot about each other.

I am sure we can all remember the horrific weather and storm Ciara that weekend; well with a delayed flight it meant the team had a very late finish. However they put the delay time to good use and did some planning and task assignments for the next few weeks as a team.

Monday was tyre pulling day with the Times 2 magazine which rounded off a busy weekend for the team. They all got to drag the tyres on Merthyr Mawr sand dunes, remember those tyres, the ones that George managed to rescue? The interview and the photoshoot was great fun and the article will be out soon so keep an eye out! Although it all went really well it was a huge eye opener for the team. It is going to be hard, really hard, probably harder than they ever imagined; but they are going to keep pushing and training and getting stronger. As George says, it is better to find it hard now and be more attuned to it when they finally get out to the Antarctic!

It is hard to understand the time, effort and dedication the 6 firefighters are putting in. It just proves that the reasons they want to do this; to raise awareness of mental health, to push stereotypical boundaries and to show every girl and woman that they can be whoever they want to be and do what ever they want to do are deeply embedded into who they are as people. This comes from the heart and to remind people we are always stronger together. For example, for Beci the weekend meant 3am bedtime on the Sunday after the delayed flight before getting up for 6am for the school run followed by a full day at Merthyr Mawr sand dunes dragging tyres and then straight onto a nightshift…! Needless to say on Wednesday night she went to bed at 7.30pm! Dedication, resilience and stamina.

I just had to share this; the picture to the left is fantastic, remember that Beci left her walking boots in the car in Wales…so Nakita, as founder of the AFA, was there to help out whenever she needed a ‘lift’ in more ways than one. Never leave anyone behind.

There are many more exciting projects on the horizon which means much more work for the team. However they will keep their end goal in sight to help with the extra pressure, and keep striving for greatness.

Overall this was a brilliant weekend for the team, and a huge thank you to the Huntly Nordic and Outdoor Centre. Yes they had ups and downs and yes it made them realise how steep the road ahead is; but Rebecca’s knee survived the weekend, Nikki’s ‘shark bite’ is intact even though she found the weekend hard, she is not used to sitting it out and being physically at the ‘back of the pack’ and last but not least, all the guys have improved on their skiing. Not bad for a long weekend, delayed flights and no wi-fi!

This really is ordinary women doing extraordinary things!

Written by Elissa

Scotland; Are you ready?! (Week 3)

(Week ending 7th Feb 2020)

We need to start this post off with a massive thank you to everyone who has donated so far; the total hit £1,000 and beyond! Thank you, genuinely, it means so much to the whole team. For those who haven’t yet donated, here’s the link if you feel like helping the team and charities out; https://www.gofundme.com/f/antarctic-fire-angels

Team WAFA
George has had a heavy week of training this week. We all know what the weather has been like so as you can imagine the trail running has been hard work. There was so much mud and water around that it was hard to keep some sort of sanity whilst she was slipping all over the place! But, for George, this is also her commute to work and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Combining these runs with an hour’s warm up on the cross trainer (with the bungee attached) has made a big impact on her mental strength and resilience. The runs home from work are still in the dark and last week George was followed by, presumably, some sort of wild animal. They normally run away and she is more than used to seeing eyes in the hedgerows and trees however this one followed her all the way through the woods! Needless to say she hasn’t taken that route home since…

There is a big challenge ahead for the team, a weekend away in Scotland to learn Nordic skiing. They will spend two days learning basics and then going out in to a forested area to practise. A combination of nerves and excitement is filtering through the team and Alison has had all her gear out on the spare bed for two weeks, not just out of excitement but her biggest concern is how she is going to fit it all in her suitcase?! An even bigger part of the weekend ahead is, for Alison, hoping she can keep up with the rest of the team. She has only ever been skiing once in her life and that was when she was 11, a long time ago! It’s also the first time she has been away and not taken any makeup with her, it’s all about being outside of your comfort zone and breaking new boundaries…!

Alison isn’t the only one who is hoping she can keep up with the rest of the team; Beci is nervous and excited about the weekend ahead although it wasn’t off to the best of starts as she has left her walking boots in her car in Wales and didn’t notice until she was nearly at the airport…! It is difficult for all the team to leave family, friends and pets when they go on these sort of training events but it is just a reminder of the dedication and sacrifices the team are making for this expedition. Beci has made sure the house was clean and tidy as she is leaving her poor husband in charge but an added extra that is weighing heavy on her mind is that she is going to miss her daughters 6th birthday. She is heartbroken to be away but she is hoping that they can get away with celebrating her birthday later in the week and her daughter will never know the difference?! We will keep our fingers crossed for you Beci!

Above the physical and mental battles of this challenge is the emotional battle. Beci feels an overwhelming guilt as a Mum to ensure her children always come first whilst trying to steal time away to achieve this goal. But she knows this will make her children so proud and remind them that they can do anything they want to in life. It means that Sunday will be a combination of holding back the tears not being with her daughter on her special day but also aching in places she didn’t even know she had…!

Team LAFA
If you recall, Nikki had taken a huge step back last week after cutting her left leg open, which has now been affectionately named as her ‘shark bite’. After many doctors & nurses appointments it was agreed that she could go to Scotland and at least give skiing a try. She booked on light duties at work to permit her to do this but she is extremely nervous about the injury and does not want to stop the healing process. So instead she started working on sponsorship packages ready for the new website and after spending 90 minutes in Decathlon getting everything she needed her excitement reached top levels!

Rebecca spent the weekend with her Mum which was really lovely for her but she found it tough to see her feeling so lonely. If you remember, as mentioned in a previous blog, Rebecca sadly lost her step-dad in December. Her brother, sister in law and nephew came over from Singapore which was really great for her and her mum; she doesn’t get to see them that often with them living so far away and she misses them a lot. It’s always important to have family and friends that you can talk to and rely on in dark and difficult times; never be afraid to ask for help or support.

After a good long walk on Monday, 15km to be precise, in lots of mud and a few very busy days at work it’s finally time for Rebecca to get excited about the Scotland weekend ahead. Rebecca is also not a skier and since her serious injury to her knee back when she played rugby she has stayed away from any risky activity. As you can imagine skiing is pretty risky for her and the nerves are setting in for the training ahead; given that she ruptured 3 ligaments and no longer has a ACL she is unsure how her body will hold up. But as ever Rebecca has a strong determination to give it a go and see how far she can push herself, mentally and physically.

It’s been a slightly different week for Nakita; she is still in a bit of a whirlwind, having reached a point where she knows her relationship ending was the best thing but the way it ended is still painful and hard for her to take. The biggest issue is that it takes her away from what she loves, her energy levels are low and she is finding it hard to focus. As team leader and founder of the AFA she finds it hard to let go of the helm but she has been trusting the team to deal with organising events and meetings and they are of course more than capable of this. It just means that Nakita feels guilty for not being able to put 100% in, she likes to pull her weight and when she doesn’t it plays on her mind.

For Nakita being back at the station with her watch has helped her more than you can imagine, they are all incredibly supportive and it reminds her that they really aren’t just her work colleagues, they are her other family. Unless you are or have ever been a firefighter it is hard to understand the bonds that are built within the watch and this week when out for a drink they started talking about Grenfell, an evening they will never forget.

Red watch were in attendance on the night of the fire and what they endured was truly incomprehensible. Nakita was on blue watch at the time and attended the night after, recovering those that sadly didn’t make it.

Ricky, a firefighter on her watch had written a poem at the time of Grenfell which really touched Nakita. Little did they know she had also written her own but never shared it. It is only now that she feels she can share the poem she had written back then, all about the experience and emotions from that fateful night. I have pasted a copy of the poem to the left for you to read.

For me writing this, it is hard to imagine what this must have been like, it is best coming straight from Nakita on this; “Climbing those stairs again and again, where the outcome would not be any different, trying to imagine what our firefighters, and all those involved went through. But we would never know and all our experiences would be different, still traumatic, but different.”

After showing their support her watch encouraged her to share the poem with others, so that night that is what Nakita did on social media. She wanted to highlight part of the ‘why’ behind the AFA team and the expedition but she was also nervous of any negative response to this going out. Perhaps people would not understand what or why she had written the poem, however the response has been hugely positive. This is an expression of feelings and emotions from someone who was there and as Nakita says, each and everyone involved in that night will have different experiences and different feelings. It is only from sharing, talking and expressing our inner thoughts and feelings that we can start to try and process something like this. It is a hard subject to write and talk about, it conjures a lot of emotion even for those not directly related to it. Thank you for understanding and reading the poem.

One thing that the team are conscious of is spreading the word and inspiring women to be anything they want to be. Some of the team went on a school visit about mental fitness withHarlequin Foundation, it was a real eye opener on how to approach mental fitness with children who had a hugely positive response which was great to see. Although interestingly, when the children were asked what job they thought the AFA team did, not one of them guessed firefighter and when they were told, there was a combination of disbelieve and awe. It really reinforced for the team that an element of what they were doing would help get the word out there that women can be firefighters too, and with these guys as hugely positive role models it makes me think we will see lots more female firefighters in the future.

Some of you might remember the other week when Nikki ended up liaising with ‘We Are The City’ and this week Nakita found out that the AFA team have nominated her as a ‘Rising Star’. She is truly humbled and moved by this nomination; take a look at their website for previous winners and learn all about the 2020 process; https://risingstars.wearethecity.com/

This was also the week I was announced as Official Blogger for the AFA Team! Genuinely so excited and absolutely love hearing and writing all about what these guys get up to. I am in total awe of their determination and dedication to the cause and I can’t wait to see where the next few years take us. The drive to show and inspire women that we are strong together and that we can be anything we want to be makes me feel so proud to be a part of this team.

Tune in next week to find out how the Scotland trip went; I mean skiing, walking and a beer or two, what’s not to love?!

Written by Elissa