Andy: “I would say to any fundraiser, go for it!”

Royal Berkshire firefighter Andy Grist, 35, joined the service nine years ago. 2014 saw him tackle 14 challenges raising thousands of pounds for The Fire Fighters Charity and Camberley-based Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“As firefighters we are quite active charity-wise doing Car Washes at least twice a year,” said Andy Grist, speaking in 2014. “Somebody always does a challenge of some sort to raise money for charity and this year I wanted to do something big.  If I can’t raise money for injured firefighters and sick children, then there is no hope!”

However, just two weeks before his first challenge Andy was taken ill whilst on duty and he ended up in A&E where they told him he was diabetic. Despite this Andy was determined to continue.

“Quite a few of my colleagues have used the Charity’s services and the feedback has always been positive. The least I can do is put a bit of sweat into it and give something back.”

Andy Grist

“Most months I have completed a challenge, some months it has been two. All have been challenging in different ways. To be honest, the toughest challenge was the one I did in October when I kayaked from Southampton to the Isle of Wight, then cycled from the Needles to the south of the island before running back to port.”

Andy said there were a couple of challenges where he had to drop out due to injury.  In the summer he took part in the Grim Reaper which was a 100 mile lap-based running race.  At 62 miles, after running for nearly 17 hours, he had to pull out after stumbling and injuring his ankle. “Unfortunately that was that.” he said. “Most challenges I have managed to pull myself through but that was really hard to accept.”

The last challenge on Andy’s list is 5 ultra-marathons in 5 days. On 9th December he will be starting at Make-A-Wish HQ in Camberley and finishing at The Fire Fighters Charity centre at Harcombe House in Devon. Running 40 miles a day for 5 days, Andy says: “I am going to take it nice and steady. This will be a good way to complete the year of challenges – starting at one charity and finishing at the other.  Hopefully only stopping temporarily at Harcombe House!

“I would say to any fundraiser – go for it!  Everyone has been so supportive at both charities. They have backed me with anything that I have asked for.

“It has definitely been a bigger undertaking than I expected. I will definitely be doing more fundraising on a smaller scale in the future. I’ll be honest, it has been brutal all year, but it’s been rewarding at such a high magnitude.  I have experienced things that I wouldn’t have experienced and I have met people I would never have met. The end is in sight. Come January I will be looking forward to putting an ice pack on and chilling out for a little while.”