Darran: “Being able to take some time out to relax was a fantastic reboot for both of us”

Crew Commander, Darran Gough, was invited to Harcombe House with his wife following a difficult few months and a particularly traumatic shout – and he says it was the break they both really needed.

As a firefighter, there’s no predicting when you’ll be called out and which of those shouts will have a major impact on you.

For Darran Gough, one of his more traumatic call-outs came in Christmas 2022, when he was one of the firefighters who attended Babs Mill Lake in Solihull, to reports of four boys falling through the ice.

Tragically, all four of them later lost their lives, and it had a lasting impact on Darran and many of his emergency service colleagues who’d tried to save them.

Recognising that he needed support in the weeks that followed, West Midlands Crew Commander Darran got in touch with us and he and his wife were offered a rest and recharge stay at Harcombe House, our centre in Devon, in March this year.

“That day on station we’d actually just sat down for our early Christmas dinner and we were expecting a quiet afternoon when the bells went off,” says Darran, of the day they got the shout to Babs Mill.

“I struggled a lot with it in the weeks that followed and we had a really difficult Christmas. We both reached out to the Charity, recognising we needed a break, and it was a fantastic reboot.

“Being able to go down to Harcombe with no dogs, no kids, and take some time out after that to just relax was amazing. We actually spent two days in our pyjamas! It was a fantastic reboot for both of us.”

Darran returned to work following the week away feeling refreshed, but says he unfortunately went on to suffer a physical injury shortly after.

“I’ve never been a runner, but when lockdown hit I organised a half marathon on my station yard, just going round and round in circles,” says Darran. “We raised a lot of money for the Charity which I was really pleased with.

“It made me want to do an organised one so I signed up for the Milton Keynes Half this year. I was training like mad but then the week before it I was up on holiday with the wife and the dog, walking Wolds Way, when a deer ran across our path.

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“The dog ran after the deer, I ran after the dog, and didn’t see a rabbit hole. I kept moving and my ankle didn’t. It took a couple of hours for the ambulance to get to us and I was immobilised in a boot for around three weeks from there.

“I got in touch with the Charity and started some online physio sessions to start with, before going to Jubilee House for a week recently. It meant I could start working on things before I got there which I found very beneficial.

“My week there was absolutely fantastic.

“I was off work for 13 weeks in total, in which time I had follow-up calls with the Charity which really helped. I managed to do the fitness test at work shortly after my stay at Jubilee and I passed first time, so I’m back on the run now.

“I plan to do the Half Marathon next year now, and then hopefully the full marathon in London the year after – which would be my 40th year in the job.”

If you feel you’d benefit from our health and wellbeing support, we may be able to help you. Call our Support Line on 0800 389 8820, make an enquiry online or register for My Fire Fighters Charity now and visit the ‘Access Support’ tab.

You can also join our ‘Share Your Story’ Group in the app, by clicking on the ‘Groups’ tab, to chat to others who have received our support or enquire about sharing your own story.