The all female firefighter team, including a 52-year-old marathon runner, are hoping to raise awareness of mental health and inspire the next generation of women with their Antarctic expedition
We love championing women and their incredible achievements, and this one is epic. In 2023, these five female firefighters will attempt a World Record crossing of Antarctica, on a mission to raise awareness of mental health issues and to show women that they are limitless.
Nakita, Alison, Rebecca, Nikki and Georgina, also known as The Antarctic Fire Angels, are firefighters from the London Fire Brigade and South Wales Fire and Rescue service. Collectively, they have over 100 years’ experience and service in the fire service, and have decided to take on the mammoth and gruelling challenge of being the first all-female emergency service team to cross the Antarctic, supported by their sixth ‘Guardian Angel’, Beci. “We are preparing to face one of the harshest environments in the world to give you full insight of who we, and indeed all women, are. We are ordinary women, who are capable of doing extraordinary things,” they say.
The women will be traversing from coast to coast, covering 1,900km in approximately 70 days. With lockdown postponing skiing training trips to Norway, they have adapted their training to our warmer UK climes, combining strength workouts with endurance activities such as running and cycling, including a 32km ‘Cake Ultra’.
“We decided to run the Vale Ultra route as part of our training – but we put a bit of a twist on it and made it the ‘Cake Ultra’, packing cake in our rucksacks to keep us going!” explains Alison, who was the first full-time female firefighter in Welsh history. A keen marathoner, Alison was excited to run her first ultra. “It was absolutely brilliant,” she says, “but we also learnt a lot, particularly about fuelling correctly along the way – and that you need to take extra care of your feet before and during ultra distances. Ouch!”
The team use longer training efforts like these to raise money for the expedition and for their chosen charities, The Firefighters Charity, The Fawcett Society and The Harlequins Foundation. “We want to assist people in emergency services that are living with trauma and injury,” the Angels explain. “As firefighters, we are often portrayed as being strong individuals who are resistant to tragedy, and able to cope and continue at any cost. But this isn’t true. Mental health affects all firefighters, and indeed can affect us all.”