Fire Service’s own Lionesses honoured with England caps

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s own Lionesses have been honoured for their exemplary achievements at a special ceremony in Burton-on-Trent.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer (ACFO) Michelle Hickmott and Stoke-on-Trent based firefighter Rachel Unitt were presented with their national team caps and numbers at St. Georges Park on Tuesday (4 April).

The duo represented the Lionesses in a combined 103 matches – taking on the likes of Spain, Croatia and Holland. They were both full-backs for England and often joke about which one was better, but there’s no discrediting their exceptional achievements both in sport and protecting the communities of Staffordshire.

Michelle represented England in a 4-1 win against Finland in 2009 and played at club level for Birmingham City, Fulham, Coventry and Charlton from 2003 to 2011.

Even whilst she was storming down the wing for the Lionesses, Michelle worked in a number of fire services across the UK for over 15 years before joining us from London Fire Brigade in May 2022 as ACFO.

Speaking on receiving her caps and numbers, ACFO Hickmott said: “It was a special day to be presented our caps by the current lionesses.

“I feel incredibly proud to have played a part in the long journey that women’s football has been on over the years - having this recognised by The FA was an important moment for women’s football. It has taken generations of commitment, passion and sheer hard work to help get women’s football to a place where the England stars are now household names, which is fabulous. Their successes are so well deserved and I am sure there are more to come!”

Her full-back counterpart, Unitt, made a total of 102 appearances for England as part of the national squad for five major tournaments, three European Championships and two World Cups - and was crowned England’s International Player of the Year in 2004.

Now a firefighter based in Hanley, she previously played at club level for Wolverhampton Wanderers, Everton, Fulham, the New Jersey Wildcats in the US, Birmingham City, Nottingham County and the London Bees.

Rachel said: “As a young girl it was my dream to play for England, so receiving my legacy cap was a very proud moment.

“It was an incredible day for all involved and nice for everyone to get the recognition of contribution to the game.

“The lionesses winning the European championship shows the progression of the women’s game in this country and what can be achieved. Hopefully the girls can bring home some more silverware at this summer’s world cup!”

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