Rachael says time riding her beloved mare, Lola, is “food for the soul”

Rachael Wells is a firefighter based at Stroud and Nailsworth Fire Stations — her husband is stationed there too. Rachael own a 17.2hh part-Irish Draft mare called Lola.

“We’ve all had to learn to live and work differently than normal. It’s been tiring but rewarding at times too”

“I’ve worked for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service as a whole-time and on-call firefighter for five years this year.

Fire services across the county have been involved in lots of extra duties during the coronavirus pandemic, including driving ambulances for the NHS, delivering PPE to care homes and assisting with food parcels for the vulnerable.

Myself and my husband George, who is also an on-call firefighter, have been driving ambulances on days off from firefighting duties and have really loved being part of the teams of ambulance crews that are working so tirelessly to care for those in need.

On a personal level, one of the hardest things to deal with has not being able to spend time with family and friends.

At work we’ve had to adapt the way we do things to ensure we are as Covid-safe as possible.

This has meant less visits into the community we live and work in. Myself and my husband had to self isolate for two weeks at one point too, due to being exposed to someone who tested positive for coronavirus, and we found really difficult being stuck at home 24/7.

I feel very lucky to be surrounded by fantastic, supportive people both at work and at home and I am grateful that I’ve not been mentally or physically affected by the pandemic anymore than anyone else has during this tough time.

Colleagues and friends who have had Covid have all recovered well and people around us who are vulnerable have been careful to shield for the last year.

We’ve all had to learn to live and work differently than normal. It’s been tiring but rewarding at times too.

One of the most difficult decisions we had to make was deciding that my stepchildren — my husband has two boys — could not come to stay with us for a couple of months.

We did it to keep them safe, as we felt we could potentially put them at risk due to the nature of our jobs.

Normally they stay with us every other weekend. It’s been a constant juggle during the pandemic to make the right decision regarding their welfare and spending time with family.

‘Riding is food for the soul’

I’ve had my 17.2hh Irish Draft mare Lola for ten years. I purchased her from Cumbria as a two-year-old and I wouldn’t be without her.

She’s not always the easiest and can be a real handful, but I know her and trust her. Spending time riding and mucking out is food for the soul.

I also have two dogs to exercise and care for every day. Having animals has been a godsend. When I’m with Lola or the dogs I am away from work and the stresses and strains that comes with my job.

It’s got both myself and my husband George out in the fresh air throughout the pandemic, which is something we are very grateful for.

We are outdoorsy people and realise how lucky we are to be able to spend time isolating in our own little world at the yard with the animals. It’s a place where we can take our minds off of the stress of daily life, as it has been a tough year.”