As we all know it’s been a super challenging year, but we believe in the power of positivity, so we hope that sharing the highlights of our year with you might encourage you to think about your own!
For me, Sweden was our first real chance to get stuck in and physically prepare ourselves for certain elements of the expedition. Despite there being no snow (there will be next time!) we managed to learn so much through Toby, and it came us a real awakening not only to how much we have to do and learn, but how every step further we’re taking on this journey makes me more and more passionate and excited about it. It put a real rocket up our bums, and we’ve been propelling forward ever since we got back!
Also an absolute incredible highlight was getting the chance to see the northern lights. I studied Earth & Planetary Sciences at University so it’s been a dream of mine to see them for years – but never did I dream that I would see the amazing display whilst in the most beautiful part of Sweden, training for an expedition to cross the Antarctic, with the Angels by my side. Truly thankful.
One of my best moments this year was The Stoop stair climb, where we climbed up and down the steps to The Stoop stadium for 10 hours in fire kit & carrying equipment. It was a tough challenge but a great team effort that pushed us outside our comfort zones.
We all pulled together as a team and had a great celebration at the end with a toast to our achievement. We raised a great deal of money for the expedition and the Harlequins Foundation, which we were all very proud of. After the covid lockdowns and a difficult start to the year it was so nice to achieve something big together as a team.
For me, the start of 2021 brought a mixture of hope and positivity but a grating of insecurity with the threat of the big C word still lingering. Although training has always been front and centre, it wasn’t until later in the year that I really felt like all my hard work was going to pay off.
Sweden was truly amazing, the scenery was spectacular and the training second to none. Toby, our survival expert was incredibly knowledgeable and shared his comprehensive experience with us from start to finish. I couldn’t have wished for a better introduction to polar survival!
Next was Scotland, and a chance for the team to be together with Elissa our Team Operations Manager. Although when we get together there isn’t much peace and quiet, we’re always very productive!! We had lots of catching up to do including the usual admin and also catching up those who missed Sweden on what we had learnt there. The Discovery centre was a real highlight for me with a personal guided tour of the ship, what hardship the Heroic Age of Exploration explorers endured was phenomenal.
This year I’ve spent most of my time training in readiness for Norway in January and totally enjoying my commute and runs with the dog. It’s important to me that I run with Pip, we share a lot of fun together and when she curls up on my lap afterwards for a post walk cwtch, well, I know she’s just using me for my warmth!
The highlight of 2021 for me has been to see the final team together training on the beach in beginning of December. This was something that back in the beginning of 2021, Covid had threatened to sabotage and sadly, we had to say goodbye to Alison as she was promoted to Assistant Chief Fire Officer. We are all so proud of Alison and wish her all the best in this new role.
We have stayed strong, kept pushing forward and these moments we are all together, restrictions permitting, have brought a smile to my face. Always one step closer to our goal.
The team have been incredibly supportive as I worked towards my Fire Investigation Officer qualification over the last 5 months. They have worked so hard behind the scenes and as the Team Leader I could not be prouder. Their drive and determination is a credit to how much they believe in the Antarctic Fire Angels message.
The highlight of my year was going to the selection day with the Fire Angels, getting to meet the team, and then being selected for the team!
It’s very humbling to have joined a team of women who are as strong, confident and ambitious as the Antarctic Fire Angels and I’m looking forward to working hard and achieving the goal of crossing Antarctica with them! Obviously I’m new to the team so have only just started training alongside them, but the training weekend we had in Wales where we got to sand ski whilst dragging our tyres on Aberavon beach in full on head winds was pretty epic too!
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year but a big positive was that myself and my Husband Dan finally moved into the house that we’d waited so long for. Our home is in the most beautiful little village where I grew up and where my parents farm is, so it’s a dream come true to build a home there together with our Jack Russell terrier Lottie.
But the highlight of my year was becoming an Antarctic Fire Angel – I’ve supported the Angels from the start just because I admired what they we’re doing so much, so to get the opportunity to try out and then make the team was nothing short of a dream come true!
For those of you who don’t know; Elissa is our Team Operations Manager and a huge asset to the team. She beavers away behind the scenes to make things happen for us, including our trip to Scotland, which was one of her highlights:
“For me, seeing our trip to Scotland come together after months of planning was the highlight – and us all being together even if it was a baptism of fire for me! We had a day on the RRS Discovery and the ship was absolutely amazing especially when it was all lit up at night!
We hope this got you thinking about your own highlights – it’s always worth reflecting on the positives in such a difficult time! Thank you so much for your support through this amazing journey of ours – we would be nowhere without you all! We wish you the very best health and happiness for 2022!
By the Antarctic Fire Angels team