Firefighter Tracy can now drive the truck

A LUDLOW swimming instructor and mum of three is driving forward her flourishing career by qualifying as an LGV (Large Goods Vehicle) driver as well as becoming something of a poster girl for women firefighters. Leintwardine resident Tracy Edwards, who works at Teme Leisure in Ludlow, also serves as an on-call firefighter with her local Leintwardine fire station, having joined Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service in 2014. Ms Edwards, aged 40, first applied to join the fire service as a retained firefighter in 2013 but took a year to build up her strength and stamina for the fitness tests, failing the ‘ladder lift’ at her first attempt.

Not to be put off, she continued to gain strength and passed the tests second time around, going on to complete her three weeks of core skills training in 2014. From then on she rapidly acquired experience, handling a range of incidents, including fires, floods, rescues and road traffic collisions, while holding down her part-time job as a swimming instructor with Teme Leisure. Ms Edwards teaches a range of ages from four months to adult through the centre’s Learn to Swim programme, private swimming coaching and school swimming lessons.

With two daughters aged 23 and 20 and an 11 year-old son, life carries on being ultra busy for Ms Edwards as she successfully juggles the three roles, providing 120 hours cover tackling daytime, evening, overnight and weekend callouts, as well as drilling one night a week. “Memorable callouts during my six years as a qualified firefighter have included a car floating in floodwater, barn fires, a cow stuck in a very boggy pond, and not forgetting the cat that wouldn’t come down from a roof,” she said. For a while LGV training seemed a long way off.

However Ms Edwards, who attended Leintwardine Primary School and Wigmore High School, has always relished a challenge and after getting used to the unpredictable world of firefighting, set her sights on qualifying as an LGV driver, only recently notching up her latest success. Driving the huge size and 18 tonne weight of a fire appliance meant a quantum leap for the woman who said her biggest vehicle until then had been a 4×4. “The sheer size and weight of a fire engine is very different from my little Peugeot,” added Ms Edwards.

Added to that, Leintwardine’s operating area is a very rural part of Herefordshire and Shropshire.