Tag Archives: fire

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.

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.

Antarctic Fire Angels; Who are they?

Hi and welcome to the Antarctic Fire Angels Blog!

If you want to find out more about these inspirational women you are in the right place! Together they are a force to be reckoned with; inspiring the next generation, pushing all out girl power to the limits, squashing stereotypes and tackling mental health head on!

The Antarctic Fire Angels are six firefighters from London Fire Brigade and South Wales Fire and Rescue Service; Founder of Antarctic Fire Angels and Team Leader Nakita Ross, Co-founder Georgina Gilbert, Nikki Upton, Alison Kibblewhite, Rebecca Rowe and Beci Newton. Together they have over 100 years’ experience and service in the fire brigade and have decided to take on the mammoth and gruelling challenge of being the first all-female emergency service team to cross the Antarctic!

In 2023 they are planning to take a route never done before by an all-female team which will cover 1900km from Berkner Island to the Ross Ice Shelf. That means they will be covering around 27km every single day in temperatures as low as -50 and all in around 70 days! It will be a huge undertaking where their nerves of steel, grit and determination will be pushed to the max.

This blog will introduce you to the team and their own reasons for being part of this dynamic and empowering group taking on this challenge together.

It all started at a WFS (Women in the Fire Service UK) event in 2019. The previous year Nakita gave an Urban Search and Rescue workshop which Georgina had signed up to; this is where the two met and instantly became friends. Fast forward to 2019 and the keynote speaker was Sophie Montague, adventurer and record holder for Ice Maiden who was also part of the first female team to ski across the Antarctic continent. Both in attendance it ignited a fire within Nakita and Georgina who were so inspired that they decided to start planning their own Antarctic challenge!

With huge support from family and friends, along with all firefighters in their brigades they start their training this year. They will take on a huge variety of different events and expeditions to ensure they are as ready as they can be when it comes to the real thing whilst still keeping up with their day jobs! Training consists of a Cross Country skiing course, mountain navigation, crevasse rescue, polar expedition training and entering events as a team like the Blue Light Stair Run in May this year.

We all have our own struggles in life, our own stories to share. We all have demons that push us to our limits, push us to take on challenges and conquer things that have never been done before. These six inspirational firefighters are no different; they all have their own moving and empowering stories to share, how they are dealing with mental health and how some have overcome huge life events to be where they are today. Over the coming months we will delve into those journeys so far and get an insight in to how they are using this challenge to support each other and more importantly spread the word. This is about women empowering women in a positive way whilst raising awareness of mental health and pushing towards a change in boundaries set by society.

The expedition will be funded by donations to total £500,000, but the team also want to raise money for the charities they are supporting along the way;
The Fire Fighters Charity – https://www.firefighterscharity.org.uk/
The Fawcett Society – https://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/
Harlequins Foundation – https://www.harlequins.foundation/

If you feel inspired by what this team plan to do and why they plan to do it and want to support them then please check out the website below;
https://www.gofundme.com/f/antarctic-fire-angels

Don’t forget to check back for our weekly updates with all the news and events our Fire Angels are taking on over the coming months and years to get themselves ready for their big adventure! Meet the team and learn more about the charities they want to raise money for and the companies who are sponsoring them.

This adventure will surely go down in history so jump on board and come for the ride as we follow every step with this epic team!

Next up; an introduction to the team starting with the 3 firefighters from London led by Team Leader and founder of the Antarctic Fire Angels, Nakita Ross.

Written by Elissa.