Fire and leadership student becomes part of an elite group of female firefighters
A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) student has graduated with a degree in Fire and Leadership Studies alongside a full-time job as a firefighter for Cheshire Fire Service.
Laura Wheelton, who started as a Cheshire Fire Cadet aged 13, finished her journey to becoming a fire fighter this summer by graduating with a first from UCLan.
The 21 year-old said: “It’s surreal that I’m graduating already, time has gone so quickly.”
Laura, originally from Macclesfield, always wanted to be a firefighter. She said: “Getting the job with Cheshire Fire Service is so exciting, I’ve been working towards this for a long time. The best thing about the job is sitting in the back of the truck going to a call out and not knowing what you’re facing, while knowing that no matter what - you are going to make a difference.”
The course is brilliant, it covers everything you need to know to be an accomplished fire fighter, the University has great links to the fire service and the modules prepare you for the reality of the role.
During the course of her degree Laura was spotted by Cheshire Fire Service and was offered a position on the High Potential Development Scheme. The former Eaton Bank student said: “The structure is similar to that of a graduate scheme, in that it allows graduates that have displayed high potential to progress quickly within the service. Very few firefighters are female so it’s a great honour to be joining their ranks.”
Laura joined UCLan to study fire and leadership, which covers modules on fire operations, chemistry and management. She said: “The course is brilliant, it covers everything you need to know to be an accomplished fire fighter, the University has great links to the fire service and the modules prepare you for the reality of the role. There were only a small amount of students on the course which meant our operational training was a great team-bonding activity and gave us all the chance to work on our confidence while out in the field.”
Throughout her degree Laura learned to balance work and play by becoming a central member of all three UCLan cheerleading squads and competing in national competitions. She added: “Keeping fit is an important part of firefighting, it’s part of our job to use the gym as well as completing all our drills.”
Looking back on her time at UCLan she said: “Living in Preston was great, it was a small city like home and I tried to embrace all aspects of University life.”
Laura was among nearly 4,000 graduates who took to the stage at Preston’s Guild Hall to graduate in front of their family and friends.