The Fire Fighters Charity leads the way in providing services that enhance the quality of life for serving and retired UK firefighters, fire personnel and their families. Supporting Fire Fighters Charity makes a positive difference by supporting people in the fire and rescue community when they are in need. Over the years, they have helped hundreds of thousands of individuals by providing world-class treatment and support services.
With no regular government funding they are reliant on donations from the general public and fire community to raise the 8 million per year needed for their beneficiaries.
Support programmes they offer include physical rehabilitation and recuperation, and also nursing care and psychological support services.
The work of The Fire Fighters Charity is best described in real life case studies, and so the Charity has shared with us two examples from the many thousands of stories that prove their work and vision have a real and direct impact on lives.
Temporary watch manager, Andy Worsley, 44, who works at Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters, suffered a painful injury to his ankle following a motorcycle accident.
Andy dislocated his ankle and broke the fibula and tibia and he also damaged his right shoulder. Andy recalls of the accident; “I was travelling home from Ilfracombe, as I am also a retained firefighter there, and I collided with an Ambulance. As it happens, I used to be the brigade secretary for Devon when the Charity was known as the FSNBF and I had been to Harcombe House in Devon a few times for meetings and presentations. So there was no question, I got in contact the day I returned home from hospital.”
“My first visit to Harcombe was for seven days at the beginning of December. I had only been out of plaster for a week. I spent most of my time in the hydrotherapy pool as walking was still difficult for me. My progress after my first stay was massive. Even after the first day I actually managed to walk instead of hobble down the stairs. It wasn’t particularly comfortable but I did do it. That was the biggest milestone that I had reached at that point.”
Andy continues; “I returned to Harcombe earlier this month. I felt more confident this time and I had a better idea of what I was capable of. I wanted to try and run the second time as I hadn’t run since the accident. They put me on the anti-gravity running machine. It was a strange experience running but not getting the impact. It was good to run again. I also managed a few laps of the gym one evening.”
Andy is concerned that he is in a job that requires full fitness but he is quick to explain; “If the Charity wasn’t available to me, I would be even more concerned about not getting back to full fitness quickly. I think without the Charity my path back to full fitness may have been longer overall. They guided me in the right direction and I am continuing with the exercise routines at home. I am still making small improvements and I am on restricted duties at work.”
Andy enthuses; “I get involved with the Car Wash as much as I can and I have been donating to the Charity for quite a long time now through my payroll. I spent some time when I was secretary for Devon encouraging people to sign up. If we can get everyone to sign up for just 5 then that would be a massive help for the Charity.”
“John has been a Fire Officer and involved with The Fire Fighters Charity for 30 years”
John has served in Northumberland, the Fire Service College, Highland & Islands and retired from County Durham and Darlington recently, where he was vice chair for Durham and Darlington’s local meetings for the Charity.
Over 12 years ago, John founded Fire and Ice Expeditions (www.fireandiceexpeditions.com) whose concept is to focus on Life Challenges and Equality and Diversity. They are a group of friends who fundraise by climbing the world’s highest mountains, organise events, run marathons, host an annual themed charity cabaret ball, deliver inspirational presentations and assist children’s charities. Their fundraising total now exceeds 100,000.
For the last 22 years John has been a National Executive Committee member of the Fire Service Sports and Athletics Association (FSSAA) – previously as Honorary Secretary, Technical Advisor and now Honorary Treasurer. John explains: “The FSSAA and the Charity have a Memorandum of Understanding that as many of the FSSAA events raise substantial funds for the Charity. One such event is the annual UK 3 Peaks Challenge which involves running/walking up the three highest summits in Scotland, England and Wales within 24 hours. The Fire and Ice team have regularly entered the annual challenge. Over the years we have completed eight challenges with five platinum medals and three gold medals.”
In 2013 John was diagnosed with Polymyalgia Rheumatica which is an inflammatory condition that causes incapacitating pains and stiffness. John says: “At my worst I was confined to my bed and a wheelchair. I lost nearly three stone and I had the most debilitating pains as the chronic illness took hold.”
John remembers: “I was told I would never climb or run again but in the last year I’ve organised the Durham raft race, completed the Cuillin Ridge, a ridge of rocky mountains located on the Isle of Skye, run the Tunnel to Towers in New York which raised 3,435 for the Charity and completed my 15th Great North Run in 1 hour 51 minutes however I did take a steroid at the halfway mark!”
John is now in remission and he is currently on a long term steroid reduction programme. During his road to recovery he continues to deliver inspiration talks, organise and participate in events for Fire and Ice Expeditions. In 2015 the team is going to the Nepal Himalayas to attempt an unclimbed and extremely remote summit – Mukot Peak (over 6,000m).
After all these years supporting the Charity, John received help when he attended Jubilee House on two separate occasions whilst in recovery. John says: “The Fire and Ice team purchased and donated the spinning cycles to Jubilee House a few years before, so in a roundabout way, what goes around comes around!”
More information about The Fire Fighters Charity can be found at www.firefighterscharity.org.uk