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Catching up with the Hellfire Harlots: Nottingham’s secret creative goldmine



Not only is Nottingham a culturally and artistically diverse community, it is city full of exciting sporting talent, with two football teams, a cherished Ice hockey team and a thriving Cricket community.


But when you think of sport, there is one that you may have never even heard of and I am here to change that.


Nottingham Hellfire Harlots roller derby are a determined bunch of ladies, working hard to both raise the profile of their sport and their game as they travel up and down the county, taking on some of the best teams to great result!


But what has this got to do with creativity I hear you cry! 11


Let me tell you about this exceptional bunch of gals. In their quest to grow this primarily organic sport, they have cultivated a real sense of ownership within their league members and operate on a “By the skaters, for the skaters” policy in terms of management.  This has attracted all kinds of folks and it turns out that not only are they harbouring some truly gifted athletes but they are hiding a wealth of creative talent under their umbrella.


Last fortnight I introduced you to Emma “Coco De Maul” Allen, photographer extraordinaire and Amy “Hooli Hell” Hoodinott, the doodlebug responsible for the sterling graphics used in the team’s promotion.


This fortnight we take a look at the dedicated crafters on the team…



Gail “Dred Bloxx” Smyth

Gail transferred to the Hellfire Harlots from a different team after deciding her long terms goals were better suited in the city and were they ever glad to have her!


After training to compete for a few months everything changed for the Mum of four and she changed sides to join the referee crew who were crying out for an extra pair of eyes. A dedicated member of the main committee, Gail has been responsible for the logistics of the live home games, including the booking of live entertainment to go alongside the skating.


Whilst maintaining her busy schedule she still finds the time to create quirky clothing and accessories for her business Antemaccassa.


You must visit such a wide range of events in your line of work. Do you have a favourite? It has to be selling out of a suitcase at a tattoo convention, loved meeting people and sold to a wide range of customers.


Do you contribute in terms of your skill set to your roller derby league and if so, what do you do? I always offer my goods at a discount price and am always happy to offer advice to anyone who would like help with their own dressmaking. I also source stallholders for our bouts, primarily from within our league and the derby community.


There are such a huge amount of creative types in roller derby, both in the Hellfire Harlots and other leagues. Why do you think this is? In my opinion the inclusive attitude of roller derby attracts people who may find being creative more difficult in general society.


What are your career aspirations? My career was in my earlier years, I sold my creations in many cities, I now work around my family concentrating on selling online and in Nottingham only. I aspire to simply continue to enjoy what I’m doing.


You can find Gail’s amazing collection at



Tracy “Wound-a-Woman” Mayfield

A regular fixture on the Hellfire Harlots B team and rising quickly through the ranks, Tracy has an impressive number of mixed and home games under her belt.


You’d never believe it from her headshot, but Tracy is a Mother to two and a grandmother to one proving that nothing can get in the way of fierce ambition.  As if that weren’t enough, she somehow manages to squeeze in full time job as a teacher too!


A self proclaimed geek, Tracy felt that the offspring of fellow Sci-Fi fans were unrepresented in modern retail. This prompted her to create the Mini Geek Boutique: a clothing and accessories brand for little un’s with an upbringing of all things GEEK; a word she is determined to take the power back with.


Do you think there is enough help available for creatives living in the city? I work as a teacher full time, so I don’t often get the chance to attend any networking events for creative, I am aware of lots of networking and socialising events for creative in the city, but they do seemed to be aimed more at students/graduates/under 30’s. There is the creative quarter, but I do think there could be more of a presence.


Why do you do what you do? I love making and creating. Developing new ideas that people also appreciate is such a great thing. I love the process of trying to create new designs.

Who do you most admire as a creative? My daughter, Charlotte. She’s an incredibly talented illustrator, so creative and imaginative and also Gavin Aung from Zen Pencils. I love his drawing style.

What is the best thing about being a creative in Nottingham? The absolute breadth and depth of knowledge this city has is amazing. If you look at the city’s history, for example, the Lace Market, Paul Smith, and more recently the art department at Trent Uni. The contemporary museum, the various opportunities to be creative (the creative quarter) are amazing. I have lots of creative friends and it’s always great to bounce ideas off them or even collaborate with them.


Interested in Mini Geek Boutique? Visit the shop at


For more information on the Hellfire Harlots,  including sponsorship and events, please go to


All photography courtesy of Emma Allen at Luna Photography.