Real Lives: Nicola is making history as she joins fire brigade

Queensferry is to get its first woman firefighter in more than 70 years.

Nicola Hinks, 23, has joined the ranks of Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service as a retained firefighter.

She graduated from the Scottish Fire Service College in Gullane, the only woman to graduate out of 53 candidates in the passing out parade.

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The last time women were deployed to fight fires in the Queensferry area was during the Second World War.

Ms Hinks said she had thoroughly enjoyed studying at the college.

She said: “It was fantastic, physically hard, but great fun and I was treated as just being one of the lads.”

She is following in the footsteps of her father, Ernie, who is also a retained firefighter in Queensferry.

She said: “With my father being a firefighter, it was always something that I wanted to do. It will be great working alongside my dad, but I think it will be weird for him to see his daughter assisting him to put out fires.”

Ms Hinks, who has an honours degree in forensic biology, works in Scotmid in The Loan, and said her employer was happy to allow her time off to fight fires when she was needed.

She hopes to become a full-time firefighter and take up fire investigation.

A volunteer at the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick has been raising money for the attraction by undertaking a mission to find and record as many wild flowers as possible.

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Mary Tebble, who is in her 80s, began the task in March, and by her deadline of October 31 had uncovered 840 different species.

Her task took her through saltmarshes, ditches, around North Berwick Law and up Arthur’s Seat.

“There have been many highlights in my quest: finding rue-leaved saxifrage at Yellowcraig, henbane in flower at John Muir Country Park and a pyramidal orchid on Aberlady Nature Reserve,” she said.

“Undertaking this mission has also made a big difference to me – not only have I lost weight but I have been able to walk on the level ground without my walking poles, which to me is a miracle.

“While I have had lots of fun and made many discoveries, I hope everyone remembers that the purpose of this task has been to raise funds to invest into the invaluable work undertaken by the Scottish Seabird Centre.

“I hope that lots of people will show their support.”

Tom Brock OBE, chief executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, added: “Mary has undertaken all sorts of impressive tasks to raise funds for the charity, but her wild flower challenge has been particularly inspiring.

“We are all extremely grateful to Mary and to everyone who has supported her. This in turn helps the education and conservation work of the Seabird Centre.”