Stuart: “You’re being put first, there’s nothing to feel embarrassed about or fear”

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Stuart Millington says raising awareness of what we do, not only for operational firefighters, but support staff too, is one of his top priorities after he experienced our support first-hand.

Stuart Millington has always held us close to his heart since joining the service in 1994, however, it’s only in recent years that he’s seen first-hand what we can offer to beneficiaries like himself.

“I’ve used the Charity’s facilities once, a couple of years ago,” says Stuart, who’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

“It was after running a half marathon and I tore my Achilles tendon. I was in a boot for a number of weeks, with the angle changed gradually over that time. I’d been operational at the time so it meant I was on modified duties for a while.”

Having fundraised for us for years, Stuart realised we may be able to help speed up his recovery, so he reached out for support a few weeks after.

“I went up to Jubilee House for some rehabilitation for a week… I’ve been simply waxing lyrical about it since,” he says.

“The programme, the dedicated resources, the ability to focus efforts on my bespoke set of needs, it was all great.

“Whenever you’re trying to recover from anything, the best thing you can wish for is to have the ability to focus all your efforts on that recovery… I equate it to somebody who’s doing sport for a living, their full-time job becomes their recovery.

“When you’re still in work and so on, even a desk job, you’ve still got all that to do as well as focusing on your physio. It’s very easy to put your physio to one side and not actually do it in the way it’s intended. Whereas when you’re in a class, when you’re being observed and when you’re doing something that’s focused, then it gave me the opportunity to focus on my recovery.”

Stuart says he was at a stage where he was able to move his leg more, so could take part in almost all the activities – and it meant he experienced everything we were offering for him at the time.

“If I hadn’t gone, I would have just continued to try and recover in the ways I had before, but going to Jubilee showed me different ways of building strength that I never would have thought of – like the balance board, for example,” he says.

“My flexibility and strength moved on considerably in that period.”

Stuart now leads on all Charity activity in his service and he’s been spreading the word round North Wales by organising more and more fundraising events, such as Car Washes.

“It’s all about improving your body and mind to get yourself back to the position where you’re functioning as well as you can”

Stuart Millington

However, he says a particular goal for him is to get more non-operational staff involved.

“There’s an awful lot of our Support Staff that don’t really think that the Charity’s for them… they think of it as a firefighters’ charity rather than a fire service charity,” he says.

“We’ve been encouraging them to get involved with the Car Washes and the fundraising elements, because it’s potentially beneficial to them.

“We’ve been quite successful with Car Washes in particular recently… next we’ll be working on the OneUp campaign too which will be great.”

Sending a final message to others reading his story, Stuart says: “Your recovery will significantly improve as a result of dedicating the time and effort to it, through the Charity. You can do that by taking yourself away from any other distractions and receiving a bespoke package of exercises and treatments that meet your need as an individual.

“You’re being put first here. There’s nothing to worry about, feel embarrassed about or fear, this is all positive and all about improving your body and mind to get yourself back to the position where you’re functioning as well as you can.”

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 register for MyFFC and visit the ‘Access Support’ tab.

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