May 3, 2021

How I got Here #4

How I got Here #4

After a short but very sweet spell in Her Majesty’s Army I retrained in Marketing Communications to run some of my brother, Charles’ southern clients and went on to work in London’s advertising and PR world. Life was fast, frenetic and interesting as a challenge but hardly a major contributor to society. However, I was fairly good at it (simply by cutting out the BS), and by the end of the eighties I was earning a six-figure salary, running around in a BMW and had all the bells and whistles to go with it, including a kind, loveable, lady who used to clean our house. One Monday morning she was there doing her stuff as I was preparing to go into London and she suddenly asked whether I knew that the local fire brigade were looking for new recruits.

World's worst soldier in peace time!

My immediate reaction was one of shock. Why is she asking me this? But being the ever-so-polite person that I am, I expressed mild but bewildered interest and left to drive the 25 miles into Piccadilly for my meeting. En route, I reflected on what she had said and by the time I’d reached my destination I was eager to learn more. It had occurred to me that maybe this would provide more purpose and be more fulfilling? That very night I whizzed back to Berkshire and rocked up at the local fire station in Ascot and enquired.

Much to the chagrin of my then wife (note the “then” and BTW this was wife number two) I gave up my well paid job to join Berkshire Fire & Rescue Service as a lowly firefighter.

Wow! This was amazing. A real contributor to the community and huge sense of purpose. Within two years I was qualified up to my armpits, wallowed in the challenges, education and fulfilment this provided me with….and I think I was quite good. My forte was road traffic accidents and I was quickly promoted to lead a crew in the busy station at Ascot and loved the leadership of a team during the often life-critical crisis situations. I learned so much about improving my own performance and teasing out the best of my crew, instructing and training others - life was incredibly busy but totally worthwhile.

Celebrating 75 years of Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme + some celebs!!
The Duke accusing me of inventing another North Pole!

Ironically, given my academic career to date I became a Graduate of the Institute of Fire Engineering and although I loved the operational side I wondered whether I could find a bit more of a cerebral angle. Five years earlier Windsor Castle, weekend home of the Queen and close to where I lived, suffered a devastating fire and they were re-constructing the damaged areas and fire protecting the rest of the castle. I wrote a cheeky letter to the Constable of the Castle stating that I was newly qualified and if they needed anyone with fresh expertise then I was available down the road. Within two weeks I had secured my second fire brigade job, albeit a more tactical, strategic and fire precautions remit.

On duty in Royal Berkshire

Whilst working for the Queen, protecting the countries assets and rescuing people in distress in my local community was fantastically rewarding, I still had an urge to make my explorations more purposeful than just adventures and in 2001 I established the Ice Warrior project.  #icewarriorproject #icewarriorjim #royalhousehold #firefighter #dukeofedinburghaward #celebrites #buckinghampalace #windsorcastle