Thanks to your kind-hearted donations, we’ve been able to continue offering support to people like Guy Pedliham, a Station Officer with LFB, who’s been helped on several occasions with his physical and mental health.

There aren’t many people still working full-time and riding in the front of fire appliances in their 60s – and Guy Pedliham says it’s thanks to our support, and the kind donations from our donors, that he’s there now.

Guy, who is a Station Officer with London Fire Brigade, has received our support several times over the years, having first visited Jubilee House, our centre in Cumbria, in 1997.

Since then he’s been helped with physical injuries that have caused long-term pain, as well as his mental health.

“The first time I heard about the support you could offer me was following an accident at work in 1996,” says Guy. “I fractured a vertebrae and had a large disc bulge after falling out of an appliance whilst dismounting it… I had some diesel on my shoe I hadn’t known about.

“It’s not the most exciting injury in the history of the fire brigade!”

After speaking to our team, Guy was offered a place at Jubilee House, to help him regain some strength and movement in his back.

“Before going there, in the two weeks building up to it, I actually felt quite anxious, partly because I didn’t know what to expect, partly because I tend to get anxious when I go away from home for any length of time anyway,” says Guy.

“But when I got there, that was very quickly dispelled. The staff are fantastic, there’s just such a great atmosphere, they’re so friendly and approachable, always smiling – and that’s the whole of the staff, the therapy staff through to the housekeeping staff and the kitchen staff.

“Then once you get into your groups and meet others, I very quickly adjusted to being there – to the point you don’t want to come home again! You’re mixing with people that are either firefighters, families or other personnel, so you all instantly have that bond. The banter is the same everywhere.”

Guy stayed in touch with us following his initial stay, receiving support in the years that followed, including a return to Jubilee House.

“These visits make a huge difference,” says Guy. “I’m in my 60s now and I’ve been in the fire service for 33 years… without the help that I’ve had from The Fire Fighters Charity, I’m certain that wouldn’t be the case – I wouldn’t be an operational firefighter still now.

“That’s absolutely heartfelt. There’s not many people riding in the front of appliances in their 60s. That’s down to your donations.”

It wasn’t until 2014, however, that Guy realised we may be able to help him with his mental health too. He had been struggling following an incident at work for several years, but had largely tried to move on without taking the time to come to terms with how he was feeling.

“I spoke to our occupational health team in 2014, as I realised I’d begun really struggling with my mental health following a bombing incident in London several years before,” says Guy.

“They suggested I get in touch with you, and I was offered a place at Jubilee House again, as I felt so comfortable after my previous visits. There were talks and workshops as a group which were really helpful.

“The key thing for me is, I asked for help as soon as I felt I was getting to a point where I was at risk of not coping.

“I think there’s a general tendency in the fire service not to do that, for people keep going until it does reach crisis, in a mistaken belief that it’s weak to say you have any sort of mental health issue, which is something I absolutely disagree with…

“I think it’s a strength to realise you need help and to ask for help. I’d really recommend people at least pick up the phone and talk to someone in the first instance, or speak to someone who’s received the Charity’s support.”

Guy was later supported by our team in the years that followed that visit, as he continued to come to terms with struggles with his mental health – some of which went back years.

“The main tools I gained at Jubilee were being able to talk completely openly about what was going on for me,” he says. “I was in an environment I felt totally secure in, surrounded by personnel who were all there for their own difficulties. It’s kind of that, ‘all in the same boat’ atmosphere, very supportive.

“The strategies I went away with, I still use now.”

Guy has continued to support us through regular monthly donations since, having seen how much support we can offer, and more recently received support both online and face-to-face following a neck injury at work.

“I had a couple of online sessions – diagnostic and also some exercise sessions and suggestions of ways to help the pain,” he explains.

“It was so much more useful than just speaking over the phone because you can see them and they can see you doing the exercises.

“I’ve also downloaded MyFFC and tried some of the videos on there which have been great.”

Guy now has an important message, following his own experiences, that he wants to pass on to anyone else who may feel they’re struggling with their mental health.

He says: “I’ve been in the brigade 33 years now and it has changed a lot, people do tend to be more open now than they were before – with less of a stigma – but I think primarily the key message is to reach out and talk, even before you reach out to the Charity, talk to your workmates, family or friends. Quite often people will come back and say, ‘I felt that as well’.

“Don’t hesitate. The Charity is there, it’s helped me and, as I said earlier, I wouldn’t be doing the job I’m still doing without it.”

If you’re struggling with your health and wellbeing, we may be able to help you. Call our Support Line on 0800 389 8820, make an enquiry online or visit the ‘Access Support’ tab in MyFFC.

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