London Fire Brigade

UK’s first woman firefighter hosts Royal fire safety day at famous Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre

26 February 2016

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal presented firefighter Louis Roberts with a certificate for helping educate young people about fire safety at The Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre.
That wasn't the only famous face firefighters met at the event as crews also bumped into David Beckham who was picking up his daughter.

Sister Mary-Joy Langdon

The event was organised by Sister Mary-Joy Langdon who founded the Wormwood Scrubs pony club in 1989.

Forty years ago Sister Mary-Joy was the UK's first woman firefighter with East Sussex Fire and Rescue service.

She set up the pony centre as a charity for inner city children, specialising in young people with learning difficulties & physical disabilities.

Fire safety

Over the past 26 years hundreds of children attending the centre have gone through a basic fire safety and first aid course.

Under the watchful eyes of the Brigade, and guests that included TV actor Martin Clunes, who acts as Patron for Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre, youngsters expertly demonstrated to HRH The Princess Royal how to raise the alarm, lead the evacuation of the stable yard, use fire extinguishers, treat human and equine casualties with imitated injuries and a stop, drop and roll scenario.

London's most senior woman firefighter Director of Safety and Assurance Dany Cotton presented Sister Mary-Joy with our 150th anniversary book which celebrates our history since 1866.

Brigade Borough Commander of Kensington and Chelsea Rob Davies said: "From being the UK's first woman firefighter to teaching hundreds of children about fire safety, Sister Mary-Joy has been a pioneer and inspiration in the history of the fire brigade.

"It is a privilege to play a small part in teaching the next generation of young riders about fire safety and we look to be more involved with the charity in the future. 
"The crews were quite shocked to see David Beckham, who was brilliant with his time and was happy to have a picture with them.

"The Brigade has met a lot of celebrities over our 150 year history but to meet fire brigade royalty, football royalty, comedy royalty and real royalty in one day must be a record."

'Anniversary of becoming first female firefighter'

"The children were all so happy and enjoyed everything, especially receiving their certificates from HRH," commented Sister Mary Joy Langdon. "I have always been extremely keen on every child having a good basic training that can be used in an emergency situation and being able to highlight these skills on the 40th anniversary of becoming first female operational firefighter is so fitting.”

The Centre began with just three ponies but after years of dedication and hard work is now recognised as a professional establishment that houses seventeen horses and ponies, and two donkeys.

The Wormwood Scrubs Pony Club Branch was established in 1992, and currently has over 100 Pony Club Members.

Read more about our 150th anniversary