Many of the plans the Angels had in place over the last 2 years had to be postponed or cancelled altogether, but now that the pandemic is gradually slowing down, we can start booking those things back into the diary, and gear up our planning of this world record crossing of Antarctica. You may see us training in the gym, pulling tyres or busy with fire station life, but the bits you don’t see are what takes the most amount of energy from us. From running our social media accounts to scouting out new potential sponsors and writing this newsletter, we are eating, sleeping and breathing the Antarctic Fire Angels and we couldn’t be more excited about it.
The last 2 years we feel like we’ve been raring to go, with no place to go! Chomping at the bit but the bit is self isolating due to being in contact with a positive Covid-19 case. But now we sense a bit of freedom; a whiff of progression, and we’re hitting the ground running at the restart!
So we have been beavering away behind the scenes in order to progress with our mission, and the last two weeks have been all hands on deck! Last week all 5 Angels (yes you read that right; all of us!) went to Birmingham for the Emergency Services Show at the NEC Arena. We have been working alongside a rescue technology company called Survitec, and they invited us to join their stand at the exhibition. So we dusted off our gilets, printed some more flyers and set up our own mini stand complete with items from our clothing range, uniquely blend tea and coffee from Explorer Coffees, bespoke Kittags and super cute branded fluffy penguins! George and Nakita went to set up on day 1, and we’re joined by the rest of the team on day 2.
To say we were excited to be out in the physical world, meeting new people and telling them about our expedition is an understatement. We dived headfirst into meeting new people and trying to get our name out there. We learnt pretty quickly there’s no time to be shy when we have a message to spread that we’re all hugely passionate about!
We met lots of people who had already heard of us, which was a brilliant sign and gave us confidence to continue on this road. We networked like our lives depended on it, and after 3 days came away with some very hopeful contacts. It’s emboldening to know there are so many people out there who want to help and support our journey.
Sadly we couldn’t stay together forever – George and Nakita did 2 days but then had to head back to work, so the final day saw Alison, Bex and Nikki on a last networking push. Alison even did a talk alongside Ruth Powell of The Firefighters Charity about mental health in the fire service, which was very well received (having an assistant commissioner/legend on the team is always good for audience engagement!) and used her contacts within the fire service to explore possible avenues of sponsorship, while Bex and Nikki became experts in a well versed pitch.
Without a doubt the biggest highlight of our trip to Birmingham though, was all of us finally getting to meet our incredible Team Operations Manager. Elissa is quite simply the best thing that has happened to us in this process; she came to us over a year ago to ask if she could write our blog for us. We were only too happy for her to come on board and since that day her role has expanded so heavily that we now consider her to be our right arm. She has a full time job but helps us with all elements of planning, on a totally voluntary basis in her free time. To this point, only George and Alison had met Elissa in the flesh; so it was a special occasion to say the least that we would all finally get to meet Elissa after many Zoom conversations – we all concluded she was a lot taller than we expected!
To mark this special occasion we went to Miller and Carter and feasted on nachos, Camembert, burgers and steaks till we were fit to burst. We might be on this epic adventure together setting out to achieve extraordinary things, but we’re also just normal women who will jump at the chance to stuff our faces, have a giggle over a few drinks and a silly photo or two! It was truly a special moment all being together, and it made us super excited for what’s to come!
After the Emergency Services Show we all had to go back to work, but joining forces with Survitec was such a success that they invited us to an event they were at the following week too! The DSEI event at the Excel Centre in London is a platform for industry professionals to showcase their products or services. It was a perfect opportunity to build our relationship with Survitec and test some of their products, whilst continuing to seek sponsorship from other interested companies. Nakita, Nikki and Bex were there on the first day (Bex having had a particularly nasty night shift so being propped up with coffee!) and they were only too keen to get stuck into helping Survitec – which happened to involve being taken out for a spin in one of their boats! The girls were donned with life jackets and wizzed around the waters of the Excel Centre, clinging on for dear life and loving every second of it!
George represented the Angels for the next day of DSEI, and had her own adventure in some of Survitec boats! She also bumped into Tess from Ruddy Nice, who has been super generous with her time and energy through our journey so far, so it was nice to catch up with her! George also continued what the other Angels had started the day before by reaching out to further companies that might be in a position to help us.
We have been told numerous times over the last two years that generating the funds for our expedition and charities is likely to be our biggest task. We know the enormity of what we’re asking from people, but we also know the enormity of the message we want to get out there. We need people to open up about their mental health and we need every female to know that she is capable of more than she thinks. We’re pushing every day to make these things happen, until we get on the ice that is – then we’ll be pulling instead!