(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.

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 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!

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