Loughborough Alumni

Our alumni

Jacquetta Gomes

Buddhist Fire Chaplain: Fire and Rescue Service

Jacquetta graduated from Loughborough University in 1978 with a Diploma in Library and Information Studies MLS. She has been recognised as the first female Buddhist Fire Chaplain, has been named in the 100 Pioneering Women of Sussex list, and recognised in Famous Western Buddhists by CBE Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia.

How do you reflect on your time Loughborough University?

It is a wonderful University and the education and training that I received was excellent. I am not surprised to see that it is still popular with the students. Having spent a year as a Graduate Trainee in a University library under the SCONUL Trainee scheme, I wished to be able to study for a Master’s degree as well as a Diploma.

During University, I was the Chairperson for Out-of-Hall Students. This was one of my favourite memories, particularly when I successfully negotiated with the Hall Chairs Committee for the Chairperson of Out-of-Hall Students to be invited to their meetings.

Can you tell us more about the role of Buddhist Fire Chaplain and the organisation you are currently working for?

Fire Chaplains serve the Fire and Rescue Service and The Fire Fighters Charity. They complement counselling and other secular support, offering pastoral, spiritual and religious support to those requesting such support. Chaplains offer a confidential listening and befriending service.

What do you love the most about your job?

I love everything about being an unpaid volunteer Fire Chaplain! It’s great working with both the FRS Fire and Rescue Service and The Fire Fighters Charity teams. Chaplaincy offers an opportunity to be of service to the community. Every time I act as a Chaplain as well as helping others I learn and expand my understanding.

What does it mean to you to be included in a Women’s Firsts list?

Naturally I am honoured and delighted to be included in such a publication, alongside wonderful inspirational women including Nobel Prize Winners. The publication includes women I was taught to respect as a child, including Elizabeth Fry and Florence Nightingale. All the women on the list have fulfilled important pioneering roles.

The Fire Service is a team. My role which led to my inclusion was made possible by the hard work and dedication of other men and women who came before me. I am sorry my Father who served with LFB London Fire Brigade is no longer alive to hear about this.

I hope all the women on the list will act as inspirations to those who come after us.

As well as appearing in FIRST WOMEN: The first women in law, government, the professions and other notable posts, achievements and matters of interest by Carrie de Silva, I was acknowledged by Sakyadhita (International Association of Buddhist Women) as the first female Buddhist Fire Chaplain in the world, in 2014.

What does the future hold for you?

I hope to continue in my role as a Fire Chaplain.

I am Secretary of BGKT Buddhist Group of Kendal (Theravada). I am a Sangha [Community of Buddhist Monks] Authorized Dhamma Teacher and hope to continue teaching and writing about Buddhism and meditation.

Do you have any other notable achievements?

I am included in Burke's Landed Gentry Volume III, England’s North West including Contemporary People of Distinction, ‘as a Contemporary Person of Distinction’. Burke’s Peerage and Gentry wrote that “… this book focuses primarily on successful northwest [of England] people. In recognition of this achievement, Councillor Gwen Murfin, Mayor of Kendal (2007-2008), requested a celebration Pali Blessing Ceremony in the Mayor’s Parlour in Kendal Town Hall.

I am the joint author of Introducing Buddhism, which has been published in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, the UK and the USA.

Most recently, I delighted to have been listed by Women to Work as an inspiring woman, and on Women in the City's list of Womens Firsts. I was also photographed by Anita Corbin for her First Women project.

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