Tag Archives: elisabethsews

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.

So it begins…! (Week 1)

(Week ending 24th Jan 2020)

As well as holding down hugely inspiring day jobs, our Fire Angels are in constant training for their challenge, meeting potential sponsors and drumming up support everywhere they go.

This is the first of many blogs where we get an insight into their week; we find out what they’ve been getting up to, dealing with the ups and downs of life, holding down a day (and night) job, whilst pushing forward with their plans.

Team LAFA
Time is already flying by and there are never enough hours in the day for this team. Anything that can help with organisation and push time efficiency is a big hit; so after hearing about the app ‘Trello’ Nikki decided to check it out to see if it could help the team with their multiple to-do lists; turns out it’s a total game changer! Nikki has set up a group for the team and it’s all systems go! (Check the app out, pictured, for all your organisational needs). Along side this Nikki has been pushing forward with emails of every kind; sponsorship requests, TV networking, hoody designs…the list is endless!

Along side this Team LAFA filmed a few pieces for LFB (London Fire Brigade) this week, one for LFB’s #LoveLondon in LittleVenice and the other was focusing on the expedition itself and the team. Understanding what strengths and experience each individual brings and how they are able to support each other through the gruelling training regimes and drive towards their ultimate goal together.

Aside from the training and the day jobs you have to remember that these firefighters still have every day life to deal with too. Everything from being a wife, grandmother, aunt, partner, sister and so on. One high for Rebecca this week was that her brother in law and his wife welcomed a beautiful baby girl, mother and baby are doing well and huge congratulations to the family. This happy moment comes at a time that has been hugely difficult for Rebecca and her family. She has only just returned to work this week after 5 weeks off; her step Dad sadly passed away suddenly in December so she has been back with her family in Wales supporting her mum. Anyone who has ever lost a parent, step-parent or guardian knows just how emotionally draining it can be, how it can sometimes be hard to get back into any sort of regular routine once you’re ready. Being back with her watch this week she has had great support and friendship from the brigade which has made the transition back to work much easier for her.

It seems that LAFA have had a hard and thought provoking week; Nakita heard that a close friend from her past had died this week. Having lost contact over the years it hit home how important friendships are in life and how sometimes life seems to get in the way. We all have people we’ve lost touch with, the ones we don’t always make the time or effort to keep in touch with, right?

It is so important to remember the benefit of taking time out when you hit any sort of low in life and find a way to deal with your feelings and your mind. Sometimes we feel that we can just carry on and that it hasn’t had any impact on us but that usually isn’t the case. There will always be repercussions when something out of the ordinary happens, when something out of the blue knocks you sideways. Remember, it’s ok not to be ok. Talk to people, tell people how you are feeling.

Team WAFA
Team WAFA met with Andy McCann this week from DNA Definitive‘. Andy was Beci’s PE teacher when she was at school teaching her Tang Soo Do (karate based Korean martial arts) and has always been one of her heroes and a huge inspiration to her. ‘DNA definitive’ is about ‘powering performance’ and ‘unlocking human potential’.

Andy offered nutrition advice, assistance with training programmes and information on psychological support; all of which will be hugely beneficial to the team over the years. For Beci, being able to reconnect with Andy and work together on a project has been amazing, who wouldn’t want to work with one of their heroes?!

As you’ve read previously, a huge driving force behind this expedition is all around inspiring the next generation; the team know that one of the best ways to do that is to take the time to visit schools and talk to children and teenagers face to face about their expedition and how mental health is something we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about. Together George, Beci and Alison have put together a number of presentations to deliver to schools in the coming weeks and months. As part of the talks the team have had some special bears created by ‘Elisabeth Sews’ to take with them, adorned with the AFA logo they will certainly help the team create memories. (Check Elisabeth out on Instagram http://www.instagram.com/elisabethsews).

George has also been in discussions with ‘Mountain Equipment’ and ‘Nordiclife’ to talk about their kit options and budgets and they even have their very first piece of kit specific equipment; Cross Country Skiing poles. It’s all getting very real now and the team can’t wait to get stuck in. With their team vests arriving ready for their logo to be added make sure you keep a look out for the team; take a look at the logo, top of the page, and keep an eye out!

AFA Team (Antarctic Fire Angels)
Collectively the AFA’s had multiple meetings this week with potential sponsors and charities they are supporting. Team WAFA drove all the way down from Wales for these and LAFA had just come off their last night shift, talk about dedication to the cause! Pictured here are some of the team at a meeting with Fawcett Society. They are the UK’s leading charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s right’s.

They do amazing work and tackle everything from smashing stereotypes, equal pay and power and workplace sexual harassment. These messages of female empowerment and support speak volumes to the team and this is why they are one of the charities they will be supporting from donations made. The team had time to talk and discuss experiences and situations they have been in, both at work and in their personal lives with particular focus on being female firefighters.

An official sponsor of the AFA’s is ‘Explorers Coffee‘ they are ‘an independent purveyor of coffees, coffee products and explorer adventure accessories’. It is owned and operated by Neil Hallsworth who is a military spouse and service veteran. The team were blown away at the meeting where they had time to talk to a Naval officer about to be medically discharged who was inspired and wanted to support the team. If you need some rocket fuel and love coffee check them out!

In fact it seems that lots of people want to support and get involved in some way; this week they also met Natalie Hewitt; a self-shooting documentary director whose work has been nominated for a Grierson award as well as two nominations for ‘Best Documentary’ at the broadcast awards. Sharing stories from her own Antarctic experiences she was a fantastic and inspiring woman who can’t wait to get involved with the team. And as if that wasn’t enough some of the team also met up with ‘The Good Wash Company, a company making luxury wash products made in Wales from the finest natural ingredients. They are on a mission to change the world ‘one wash at a time’ with their profits helping improve the lives of animals and people; sounds pretty impressive to us!

Wow…I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted just reading this! To some this might not sound like much to do in a week, but add in the day job, the constant daily training and organisation of upcoming events and all this adds up to a packed week! This is how it’s going to be for the next few years, constant battles to find enough time to do everything; they will all have super long days, feel tired and it is already starting to take it’s toll on the team.

We are sharing this with you because we want you to see every side of this challenge, not just the interviews and photos, not just the positives but the hard hitting reality that this is a massive undertaking for the team. They are gaining momentum with more and more requests and offers for help rolling in. This is getting bigger and better week by week and it’s all down to the constant effort LAFA and WAFA are putting in.

Remember, you can do anything you set your mind to!

Written by Elissa.