Name: Georgina Gilbert
Job Role: Firefighter
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Be the person that you need when you were growing up.
Describe yourself in 3 words: Unpredictable, cantankerous, protective.
Favourite Penguin: Rockhopper
George’s Story (in her own words)
When it came to finding a job I wanted to find one that had a little bit of what the men do. Actually, I was looking for a role where women did ALL the things the men did.
I looked at the Royal Navy, serving at sea is an area that my family have been involved with back over 300 years. My father was in the Merchant Navy and then a shipping pilot, a job I highly admired.
Was I allowed to do that?
When my mother declared that women who join the Navy just march a lot and get chubby calves and turn into lesbians, I was discouraged from joining this particular career, although I must state that the latter was actually true, I don’t have a predisposition for chubby calves.
It all seems so trivial now and what on earth was I thinking but, I remind myself that I had few role models growing up in the 70’s and 80’s except Wonder Woman (who is hideously objectified) but a strong woman kicking butt with again, mild peril, was something that I found attractive.
I considered the army but homosexuality was illegal, I was very attracted to anything that involved horses (I used to be a riding instructor) but alas, that wasn’t open to women either.
In 1998 I joined as a part time fire fighter, and I can comfortably say, it was the men who were more out of their comfort zones than me, that was understandable though, women to them were traditionally left at home and not in their place of work.
In 2000 I joined full time and I swore to myself that I would be a role model to every other woman who was looking to join a job that was traditionally a male role.
Every single job in the world is (or should be) non gendered. If I had my time again, I’d be in the Royal Navy and I would have had my sights on trying out for SBS but, none of this was an option for women but with the fire service heavily based on the Navy, I haven’t really strayed far from it all, I’m even boat trained too.
When the idea came to cross Antarctica, unsupported, 1900kmcrossing one of the most inhospitable places on earth, this was my opportunity to prove that you can be a woman AND do something that is utterly out of your comfort zone.
It honestly doesn’t matter what it is, just challenge yourself, you’ll not only amaze yourself but others too.
There are women out there who think “oh I couldn’t do that”.
My response to that is “have you tried?
If the answer is no then how do you know you can’t?
I’m a bit wild, a free spirit. I hate being told no, you can’t do that”.
In the words of DH Lawrence (and G.I Jane and a film I love)
“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself”.
I hope that I am the person that I needed when I was growing up.
George is co-founder of the Antarctic Fire Angels and Team Leader of the Wales team known as WAFA. She has been a firefighter for 20 years and currently serves with South Wales Fire and Rescue service...