A group of Leicestershire firefighters have set up a walking group to bring together serving and retired personnel, in memory of their colleague and friend Gary Chamberlain.
Gary sadly passed away on 9 December 2023. He had been a strong supporter of our charity throughout his career and retirement, regularly organising fundraisers and spreading the word about the support we offer.
With that in mind, his friends and former colleagues wanted to organise a fundraiser in his memory, to continue his legacy.
John Gregory, who helped organise the fundraiser, says: “Gary was an inspiration to many friends, colleagues and of course his family. He was passionate about his physical health and he was an advocate for mental health, especially for his fellow retired colleagues – always campaigning for greater support. It is with this in mind, our challenge for January was set… to walk, run, swim, gym or cycle every day in January.
“To honour what Gary always set out to achieve, it is hoped that each day you complete this with a friend, family member or colleague. Don’t struggle alone.”
John, alongside friend and colleague George Clarke, also helped to set up a walking group in Gary’s memory, to bring both serving and retired personnel together to share memories, talk and build up valuable social connections.
Their first walk was on 15 January and saw an incredible 23 people come together. They now plan to hold them every month, in a different part of the county each time, to ensure they reach as many colleagues – past and present – as possible.
“These walks were inspired by Gary. He was doing so much for mental health in regards to retired members, and that’s where this idea came from – to have a group that’s open to anyone, both serving and retired.
“On the 15th, it felt like Gary was watching down on us. He’d definitely have been there and he’d have been proud to have seen so many retired members come together and share stories.”
George adds: “The group invites ops, non ops and retired personnel to come together once a month to help with fitness, mental health and wellbeing, and to bring a real sense of social interaction where everyone is welcome.
“The first one we held brought people together that haven’t seen each other for a while. We want to make sure that everyone is okay – not just colleagues still in the job, but those that have retired too.”
Gary himself shared his passion for bringing retired fire service personnel together in a story with us last year. You can read that here.
To support the group’s fundraiser, click here.