From playing international sport to working in male dominated environments Rebecca Rowe knows no boundaries to gender stereotyping when it comes to success.
She has competed in the rugby World Cup and six nations for Wales, won world championships in surf life saving and rowed for Great Britain.
Having her sporting career cut short twice through injury she has battled depression, social identity and coming to terms with not achieving her childhood dream to become an Olympian. Being a female has never limited Rebecca in striving for her goals and dreams and being part of this expedition is just another example of this. She is passionate about being an example for other women and girls and hopes her achievements and life experiences will show there are no boundaries.
Working as a Firefighter has been a lifelong ambition. At the age of 37 she started her new career doing just that, leaving her previous role as a PE teacher. Changing career late in life was a risk for her but Rebecca persevered with it and maintains it has been the best decision she could have made.
Rebecca has a mini sausage dog called George who will be a key part of her support team as a motivational coach and chief ‘cwtch’ giver. After meeting the whole team, having a chance to bond and realising what an amazing and a determined group of women she is involved with, Rebecca is super excited about getting to business with preparing for the expedition. She is continuing to look for options to try and smuggle George the sausage dog to the South Pole.
As an all-female team of firefighters from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) and London Fire Brigade (LFB), they intend to be the first emergency service team to use muscle power alone to ski coast to coast across Antarctica on a route that has never been done by an all-female team before.
The challenge will take place in late 2023 with three years of specialist training and preparation required. In order to achieve their goals safely, the Fire Angels need to raise funds to secure vital equipment, satelitte communications, flights, medical cover and much more.
The Fire Angels hope to smash stereotypical barriers and inspire the next generation. The team hope the expedition will have a positive impact on future recruitment, so others can benefit from the rewarding career, as they have.
They are also looking to raise awareness of the impact of mental health on firefighters, who are often seen or portrayed as strong individuals who are impermeable to tragedy and able to cope with every situation. The Fire Angels want to highlight that emergency service workers are affected by mental health too.
To make this challenge a reality, the Fire Angels need to a raise a total of £500,000, whilst also seeking to raise vital funds for key charities such as The Firefighters Charity and The Fawcett Society. They are looking for inspirational sponsors to join them on their journey!
If you would like to sponsor the Fire Angels or have any questions, then please contact them via email: [email protected].
The Fire Angels are also raising money via their GoFundMe page here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/antarctic-fire-angels
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I was born and grew up in South Wales and have been a very keen sports women majority of my life. I am a former international swimmer, surf lifesaver, rower and rugby player. I have competed in 4 world championships in 3 different sports and won may international medals including being a double world champion and world record holder in surf lifesaving. I am a qualified PE teacher working in schools for 8 years and now a firefighter in the London Fire Brigade.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Not really,I wanted to go to the Olympics when I was younger and based my life doing sport and having part time roles to pay the bills to try and achieve this. Injury got in the way and I then looked to a career.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Yes, working in make dominated environments was sometimes challenging. I started training as a PE teacher in a boys school and was the only female in the department. I often felt I had to prove myself to be there.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Playing rugby for Wales at 3 six nations and a World Cup as I was in my 30’s and had a full time job in teaching. I made a to of sacrifices by myself and after retiring from high level sport 6 years before I never thought I would be doing sport at that level again.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
Being resilient, I have had many up and downs along the way but its how I have dealt with them that has helped me achieve success.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I am a huge fan of mentoring and I have on at the moment in work. I have also mentored other athletes over the years. I think it’s so important to have someone who understands exactly what you are going through and someone you can look up to and not be afraid to ask the silly questions and give you direction with no judgement.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?
Get more men on board as allies.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Celebrate the small things, I spent years feeling like my achievements weren’t quite good enough and always wanting more.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
Antarctic expedition in 2023, this will quite possibly be my biggest challenge yet. I hope to not only complete the expedition but raise a lot of money for our charities and inspire other women and girls to go out and achieve something no matter how big or small. Also rise awareness of mental health issues for firefighters and let people now it’s ok to not be ok.