It’s the running event of the year for the UK and the 2022 London Marathon will see more of our amazing supporters take to the streets of the capital to run 26.2 miles in aid of us.
More than 20 people are raising money for us ahead of the annual event, having seen just how important the support we offer is either first-hand, or through colleagues, friends and family.
Here we hear directly from them on why supporting us is so important – and how you could too…
Maria’s husband, Rusty – who was an on-call firefighter with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service for 31 years – passed away suddenly in May 2019. She’s now running the Marathon in aid of us as a tribute to him and his colleagues.
She says: “Rusty and I used to watch the marathon, and he used to say, ‘one day you’ll do it’. To run it now will be an emotional and inspiring opportunity for me to give something back for the support I have received since Rusty’s passing. I know Rusty would be very proud of me and I would be honouring his wishes…
“My children can no longer run up to the station to wave their Daddy off when they hear the sirens, but they can wave me as I put in the miles to train for this event and be there when I cross the finish line.
“Every mile I run, I will be thinking of Rusty – as I do every day – and of the lives I know he would want us to enjoy to the best we can. We all still really miss him.”
Will was supported by us following an injury at work in 2016. Just a few years later, his dad – who’s a retired West Midlands Group Commander – was also helped following a shock accident, and he’s now preparing to run the Marathon for us to say thank you.
“I broke my right femur and my left foot and ended up having an operation to have a metal bar put in and nuts and bolts added! I had nearly two years off work while I recovered,” says Will.
Knowing about our support, Andy got in touch with us on Will’s behalf, and we offered him a stay at Jubilee House, our centre in Cumbria.
“It was the best thing I’ve ever done. I turned up in a wheelchair with crutches and by the second to last day I was just about walking to the end of the car park to go to the pub!” says Will. “They taught me to walk again to be honest.”
His dad sadly suffered an accident himself more recently, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“He was planning his retirement at the time and was walking the dog when a car reversed into him and crushed him between two other cars,” recalls Will. “Unfortunately it happened in the middle of Covid so he couldn’t visit Jubilee House straight away. He went once he’d learned to walk himself, but he still got a lot from it.”
Kayleigh, who became one of our valued Station Reps within months of joining Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, is running for us having seen both her dad and grandad helped over the years.
“My grandpa went down to Jubilee House in Penrith after he broke his hip. That was around 2008,” says Kayleigh. “He had some rehab and it was just amazing. Everyone was so lovely and the facilities there are just amazing. Then my dad’s been too and said the same, it’s such an amazing resource we have.
“I think a lot of people would really struggle without the Charity. You just think, some people don’t have access to this and if they do it might not be affordable, so just the fact we have it there and we can use it at anytime is really amazing.
“Without people’s donations, the help they had wouldn’t have been possible.”
Speaking about applying for a marathon spot, Kayleigh adds: “I’ve never run that far before and it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I can’t wait now!”
Sam, a firefighter with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, is running the marathon having seen the support we’ve offered his colleagues – and it’s also in memory of a close friend of his.
He says: “I personally haven’t required your support to date, however, I know colleagues who have and the support they received was second to none and played a huge role in improving their situation.
“I will always do what I can to raise funds for the Charity, the work they do is amazing and you just never know when their services / support will be required!
“I also have a personal reason for running the marathon – I lost a good friend in 2018 while he was running the marathon himself. He had a heart attack 3.7 miles from the end, so it’s in his memory too.”
Naomi’s partner, Jeff Cross, is a Watch Manager for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue and has been supported by us with his mental health in the past.
Sadly, in 2018, he got to the point he considered ending his own life. Fortunately, however, he reached out for help in time and Naomi, along with two of his colleagues and friends, got him the help he needed. They later contacted us, to see if we could help his recovery, and he was offered a stay at Harcombe House, our centre in Devon.
“While Jeff was there, he had a lot of mental health support and was given/taught the tools to assist him on his road to recovery,” says Naomi. “When Jeff explains to people about the programme, he says ‘it was a life changing and life saving experience’.
“This is why I am running the Marthaon on behalf of the Charity. Without their support and that of our firefighter friends, we wouldn’t have the most amazing daughter and future as a family ahead of us.
“I am looking forward to crossing the finish line on October 2nd and seeing my beautiful daughter who will be 11 months then and my partner who is supporting me through my training and even managed to rope him into a few races along the way to help.”
Dan, a Crew Manager with Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, has been fundraising for us for months, having tragically lost a colleague to cancer last year.
He says: “I’ve witnessed the great work that the Charity can offer through my close friends and colleagues. This is very reassuring knowing that this service will be there to support both my family and I, if called upon.
“Therefore, I would like to raise as much money as possible to ensure this charity can continue to operate for many years to come.
“Last year we lost a colleague to blood cancer, a serving watch manager who lost their life far too early. In his name, and raising money for charity, a group of firefighters from DWFRS ran the Bristol half marathon in full fire kit and BA.
“From that incredible event, I have developed a strange passion and obsession to running in fire kit and BA! I have since run the Bournemouth and Kew Gardens Half Marathons as well as a treadmill Half Marathon, all raising money for The Fire Fighter’s Charity. Bring on London!”
Dawn and Lee Colton
Lee Colton, a Devon and Somerset firefighter, has been supported by us with his mental health and both he and his wife Dawn will be running in 2022 to say thank you.
Lee says: “I have suffered with my mental health and when I went to Harcombe House, I was at the point where I was ready to end things, through various work, life and family issues. I can’t stress enough how amazing the place was and brought me back from the brink. It was a no brainer when we were offered places in the Marathon, being able to give something back to the people who brought me back to my people.
“Training is definitely helping with my ongoing mental health battles, as we both love being outdoors and have previously done triathlons together.
“Our original plan was to stick together, but it turns out Dawn is much faster than me! I’m just going to go at my own pace, she’ll go at hers, and we’ll see each other at the end. I’m already looking forward to the curry and homecoming celebration we’ve got planned for afterwards, also raising that last bit of cash for the Charity.”
Dan, an ex-RAF firefighter who’s now a firefighter at Manchester Airport, has seen the support we’ve offered several colleagues over the years.
He says: “I decided to run for The Fire Fighters Charity as it’s something that all people in our job could benefit from one day and I have several colleagues who have used it and have only said good things about it.
“I heard how much the Charity helped and supported my colleagues so I wanted to be able to give something back.”
Becca was delighted to be offered one of our Charity places in the marathon after seeing her father enjoy a long career in the fire service, including being one of our Trustees.
She says: “I am hugely passionate about mental and emotional health & wellbeing, particularly in the workplace. Having experienced trauma and mental health issues previously, I understand what it’s like to feel the need to have support.
“I am a Trauma Support Specialist, NLP Practitioner and Holistic Wellbeing Coach as well as being a meditation and yoga teacher. My cousin used to be in Royal Berkshire and I am fully behind everything you do as a charity.
“I am delighted to support firefighters throughout the UK via The Fire Fighters Charity. Along with all other blue light services, firefighters are exposed to and have experienced some harrowing situations which can cause lasting impact physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.”
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service firefighter, Will, is hoping to run for us in full fire kit and BA set.
He says: “When I joined the service in 2020 I found out about the Charity, and that most of my colleagues with 10+ years service had needed their help at some point.
“I then set out with the aim of doing a charity event for the FFC every year of my career, having done a full fire kit and BA half marathon in 2020, and then a 5km dummy drag in 2021… A marathon in fire kit and BA seemed the next logical step, so the London Marathon here we come!”
Luke, a firefighter based at Faversham in Kent Fire and Rescue Service, has seen how we’ve supported many of his colleagues over the years…
He says: “I’ve seen and heard of some of the great work the Charity does for not only my colleagues but their families too.
“Being a firefighter myself, I feel it is vitally important to support the Charity so they can continue to help us all. I work with someone who has experience of using the Charity and can’t speak highly enough of the help and support they received.”
Scott, who works for West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service, has wanted to run the London Marathon for 15 years – and feels it’s “now or never”.
He says: “I have been lucky and not needed support from the FFC but over the many years I have been a firefighter, numerous of my colleagues have been able to use the facilities across the country, and have raved about the excellent treatment and service that the Charity has given them, and how this has helped with both their mental and physical wellbeing, and has allowed them to return to operational duties in such a short time.
“I decided to run for the Charity after over 15 years applying through the ballot but not being able to get a ballot place. It was always on my bucket list to do the London Marathon by the time I was 40, but now I am approaching 50, I felt it was now or never.
“This prompted me to look into a charity place, and with being a fundraiser for the Charity for many years, and completing several charity events because of this including climbing Kilimanjaro and Ride London – plus, seeing the Charity help so many fellow firefighters and their families – I decided to combine the too! So here I am.”
Neal, a Crew Manager and on-call Watch Manager with Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, is running in aid of us, having seen our support first-hand.
He says: “I am running the London Marathon as I want to help ensure that The Fire Fighters Charity can continue to support those who need it for years to come. I have family and colleagues who have been supported by the Charity and know first hand how valuable the services that they provide are.”
We also have some incredible own-placed fundraisers running for us on the day. Here are some of their names and how to support them:
Dean Alves, a former firefighter with Kent FRS, has been supported by us in the past and wants to do his bit to give back.
He says: “I am running the London Marathon for The Fire Fighters Charity as it’s a cause that means so much to myself and I know for many other firefighters and their families. I’ve been lucky enough to have had the Charity for support in the past and I am keen to give back to such fantastic team.”
Watch Manager with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue, Paul, is donating some of the money he raises this year to us after receiving physiotherapy support from our team.
He says: “Although I am not running directly for the charity, but instead for DSFRS Running Club, I still wanted to raise some money for the Charity following the support given to me by the physio for my back pain.
“I had some remote sessions during COVID restrictions and a face-to-face meeting when restrictions were lifted. The team were amazing.”
Kellie, whose uncle was in the fire service, chose us to support after he sadly passed away.
She says: “I am running in support of your Charity in memory of my uncle, Calvin Dodd.
“We lost Calvin suddenly and unexpectedly in May 2020 at the age of 46 (a loss which still devastates us every day.) Calvin was a serving firefighter at the time of his death and had been a member of Doncaster’s Red Watch for 25 years prior to his death.
“I chose your Charity as he donated to you each month when he was alive. It means a lot to me to support a charity which he cared about and one which recognises the heroic work of him and his colleagues, of which he was so proud (and we are too).”
And more runners supporting us include:
- Karl Turrill, Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service
- Wesley Southall, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service
- Mark Turner, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service
- Natalie Redman, London Fire Brigade
- Adam Casey, London Fire Brigade
- Annelise Sadler, London Fire Brigade
Don’t forget to join our London Marathon Group in MyFFC to chat to others taking part. Register now and click on the ‘Groups’ tab at the top of the MyFFC homepage to find that and more.