Georgia: “You didn’t just focus on my injury but me as a whole, including my mental health”

Georgia Phillipson saw her professional rugby career abruptly end due to an injury, and feared it’d also mean the end of her being a firefighter – but she says our support got her back on the run again.

It’s a powerful thing to be able to say your donation helped someone get back on the run as a firefighter.

Well, that’s exactly what it did in Georgia Phillipson’s case – and in many more just like it.

Georgia, 23, broke her ankle in November 2018 during a rugby match and it spelled the end of her time in the Scottish rugby team – for which she’d been chosen just shortly before.

However, one of her biggest fears at the time was that she wouldn’t be able to return to work as a firefighter, but thanks to your donations, we were able to support her in her recovery and help her get back on the run the following year.

“I was off work from the moment I inured myself until I was fit enough to get back on the run… it was 17 weeks in total before I was back working,” says Georgia.

“A huge pressure at the time was my rugby. I was in the Scotland team so I was devastated when I injured myself – especially because I was playing in a month’s time and I knew straight away I wouldn’t be okay for that.

“I had an operation where I had six pins and a plate put in. At the time I was working for Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and my Station Manager suggested that I go to Jubilee House in Penrith. I didn’t even consider reaching out to the Charity until then.”

Georgia was offered a rehabilitation stay at Jubilee House once she was off her crutches, to build up her strength and fitness.

“At first I was hesitant because I didn’t feel like my injury was severe enough and I hadn’t been with the service for very long at that point,” adds Georgia. “I quickly realised through being there that the Charity will help all of us and no one should feel guilty for accepting their help.

“It came at the perfect time for me because I was just about walking so I was trying to build my muscle and strength up again.

“I had a training programme for a week including physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, swimming and mindfulness. I was taken aback by how much they supported me and how they didn’t just focus on my injury but me as a whole, including my mental health.

“The mindfulness was particularly nice because rugby and work were my whole life at the time, so to lose both was really hard. The mindfulness was some time to myself to come to terms with the impact it had all had on me.

“Being round other firefighters there was really helpful because they understood. They’d also been really fit, often playing sports, and suddenly been left with these major injuries.

“The physiotherapists gave me daily exercises which I did for a long time after leaving Jubilee House. I used an anti-gravity treadmill for the first time where I was gradually able to start running. That was amazing, it was such a confidence boost knowing I could do it.

“I went in there just about being able to walk and I came out being able to run. A few weeks later I was back on the run.”

Georgia has since moved to Cheshire FRS as a Business Safety Advocate and has donated to us, as well as planned fundraising events, ever since – as a thank you for the support she received. She’s also become one of our volunteer reps, to spread the word even further about what we do.

“In April 2021, I saw that funds for The Fire Fighters Charity had fallen because of the Covid-19 pandemic as people weren’t able to do as much fundraising as usual. I decided that I wanted to do a fundraiser to give back for the support I had received,” says Georgia.

“Myself and a colleague from Kent Fire and Rescue Service decided that we would do a relay of 5k a day for the month of March, taking it in turns each day. We set up a JustGiving page and our target was to raise £550 but we surpassed that very quickly and by the end, we were delighted to have raised £2330.

“From that I actually became one of the charity’s reps, to hopefully spread the word a bit more from my own experiences.

“I am now working with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and I would recommend The Fire Fighters Charity to any of my colleagues, no matter what they’re going through.”

Georgia has a final message for anyone reading her story…

“Never feel guilty for asking for help, especially if you’re in the fire service – that’s what the Charity is there for. I felt really guilty because I hadn’t been in the service that long, but I didn’t need to.”

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 MyFFC now and visit the ‘Access Support’ tab at the top of the MyFFC homepage.

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