Firefighter Hayley Chesterman had never used our services before her husband was left hospitalised with a blood infection – but she says seeing the support he’s had has made her feel “protected” in the years ahead.

Having been a firefighter for more than 20 years, Hayley Chesterman has known a number of her colleagues reach out for support from us – but never considered doing so herself.

It was only when her husband, Matt, was struck down with an awful blood infection from a suspected spider bite that she realised how far our support stretched, helping not just her but her family too.

Matt’s since had a number of video calls with one of our physiotherapists and some remote 1:1 counselling with a counsellor, as well as a stay at Marine Court, our centre in Littlehampton, to aid his recovery.

“I was away on holiday a few months ago in Kent with the family,” says Hayley, who works for LFB. “We went out for a long walk that day and my husband started to feel ill about 6pm that evening.

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“We went to bed and didn’t think anything of it, then the next day he got worse and worse, which ended up with us having to take him to hospital.

“He ended up spending another month in hospital due to what they think could have been a spider bite.”

Matt had contracted cellulitis with the bite and a blood infection, which caused a lot of follow-up problems.

“When he came home from hospital after a month he was still pretty bad physically and mentally, I noticed something wasn’t right,” adds Hayley.

“Someone on my Watch reminded me that The Fire Fighters Charity is there for partners too. I’d never used them before in 21 years, but I just thought I’d give them a call to see what they could do. They were amazing.

“I spoke to one of the team and then they booked in a few sessions with my husband, to speak to him once a week. He said they completely helped him.

“They informed him on some of the things he could do for his leg, and also mentally. I could see a difference in him after the first phone call.

“They’ve treated him as if he’s a firefighter, so it’s just nice to know that we’ve got The Fire Fighters Charity there to help us and feel kind of protected. It’s nice.”

Matt has since visited Marine Court too, to continue his recovery with time in the gym, pool and with our Physiotherapists and Exercise Therapists, as well as other beneficiaries by his side.

“Matt absolutely loved his time at Marine Court,” says Hayley. “He has come back feeling so much better. He said they couldn’t do enough for him and the food was great!”

If you feel you’d benefit from mental health 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.