A group of emergency service and Armed Forces personnel are marching 3,863 miles in 40 days, in aid of us and several other charities, to raise awareness and support for those working on the frontline who are struggling with their mental health.
Former Essex Fire and Rescue Service firefighter, Dan Cairns, is one of the people taking part in what the group have called the ‘Yompathon’, and is representing the UK’s fire services.
“I’ve known a few guys who’ve been helped by The Fire Fighters Charity, with their mental health,” says Dan. “I’ve been lucky enough not to need that support myself, but I saw you help a lot of people.”
The group set off on 1 October and are visiting over 200 military and emergency service establishments along the way – passing through three countries, 14 national parks and 40 counties across the UK.
They hope to finish at Royal Navy Headquarters in Portsmouth on 10 November, ahead of Remembrance Day – and they’ve already raised over £7,000!
We caught up with Dan around halfway through the challenge and he said, while it had been gruelling, the whole group were staying motivated knowing the difference they’re making.
“It’s been a painful experience, that’s the best way to describe it! There are sores, blisters, blood everywhere, but we’re still going! One of the hardest things has been the lack of sleep to be honest,” said Dan.
“Knowing what we’re doing it for, and who we’re helping, is what’s keeping us going.
“Unfortunately we’ve had one of the guys drop out with an injury, which actually led to septicemia. He’s a paramedic so knew straight away and he’s doing okay now. That has meant we’re doing extra miles between us, which has added to the lack of sleep. But we’re feeling positive and we’ve had some incredible support along the way.”
The group are supporting us, Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity, FirstLight Trust, All Call Signs, SSAFA: The Armed Forces Charity, Police Care UK, The Ambulance Staff Charity and NHS Charities together.
To support their fundraiser, click here.