Firefighters prove their charity fundraising worth

Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service collected in the 2012/13 financial year more than £100,000 for The Fire Fighters Charity, through various money-making sponsored endeavours including taking part in the London Marathon and a cycle ride to Bonn, Oxford's German twin city.

They also raised in the year a further £20,000 for Children in Need and Comic Relief, taking the amount gathered by them for charitable causes over the past decade past the £1m mark.

It is the second time in three years that Oxfordshire's Fire and Rescue Service, which is made up of around 700 staff, has been named by The Fire Fighters Charity - who aim nationally to enhance the quality of life for serving and retired firefighters, fire personnel and their families - as the top per head donators to it.

Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service has also set up a programme called Reaching Out, a scheme designed to engage staff, ex-staff and their dependents with the work of The Fire Fighters Charity.

A huge honour

David Etheridge, Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service's Chief Fire Officer, said: “It’s a huge honour to be the most charitable fire service in the country per head for The Fire Fighters Charity and I am very proud of the public spirit and commitment the team have shown in helping others.

"We have a very long tradition of charity fundraising and always aim to reach higher targets year on year.

"It’s about reaching our beneficiaries, those who need our help in the fire community, which was the founding principle of the charity.

"This is great news for us going into our 40th anniversary year in 2014 and I look forward to reaching more people and raising more funds for this and other worthy causes."

Credit to staff and donators

Firefighters and staff raise money through personal donations and in house lotteries, and through public fundraising events such as sponsored treks, marathons, car washes and driving challenges.

Local charity co-ordinator Chris Wilson, who is Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service's Research and Development Manager, said: "We couldn't do this without staff and public donations. Our events create a great buzz and make fundraising fun for us and those donating.

"We rely on our cheerful staff to go out into the towns and villages to run the events. In 2012/13 our staff took part in a Hadrian's Wall challenge, triathlons, the London Marathon and a cycle ride to Bonn in Germany to name but a few.

"They make the charity what it is and raise the funds to help our beneficiaries, and I send my thanks to them all."

Performing at a high level

John Parry, the Chief Executive of The Fire Fighters Charity, said: "Oxfordshire’s Fire and Rescue staff consistently raise high levels of funds for The Fire Fighters Charity, meaning that we can help fire fighters recover from injury or illness.

"Our three centres located in Cumbria, Devon and West Sussex have professional teams who are very focused on helping people in real need, whether that is about physical recovery or the understandable stresses that can occur from attendance at life-threatening incidents over the years.

"Oxfordshire firefighters, together with the brilliant support from the public in the county, have performed to such a high level that in 2011 they achieved the accolade of being the best brigade in Great Britain in supporting the charity, and they continue to be nominated for this in the years since. They punch well above their weight."

Anyone interested in supporting The Fire Fighters Charity should contact Chris Wilson on 01865 842999.