Oxfordshire firefighters raise over £100k for The Fire Fighters Charity

Oxfordshire firefighters have smashed their £100,000 fundraising target for the Fire Fighters Charity after embarking on an epic 1,006 mile cycle ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End. Traditionally the route is 874 miles long but Oxfordshire firefighters chose to bump up the distance to 1,006 to reflect the measurement of the county that they serve in square miles.

In May 2016, a team of 18 cyclists from Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service made the 1,006 mile journey along with the support team of four helpers. Over £102,000 was raised after the culmination of 18 months of planning and fundraising which included supermarket collections, a ball, raffle, corporate sponsorship and donations.

Many of the Oxfordshire firefighters took part in the 2016 JOGLE challenge in memory of colleague Joe Wilkins who died in a collision with a car while cycling in May 2012. The team paid tribute to him during their challenge by carrying Joe’s personal brigade tally and name badge throughout the 1,006 mile journey.

The team completed the epic cycling challenge in 14 days, riding approximately 80 miles a day and stopped at eight different Fire and Rescue Services: Scottish, Cumbria, Lancashire, Staffordshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Devon & Somerset and finally Cornwall. Fire stations and youth hostels become the team’s home for two weeks, with several brigades up and down the country joining them on a daily basis.

Chief Fire Officer of Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Dave Etheridge OBE said: “The target of £100,000 is the largest sum that Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has ever tried to raise, so to smash the target and raise over £102,000 for The Fire Fighters Charity which supports serving and retired firefighters and their families is just phenomenal. It has been an incredible team effort by all involved.

“I would like to thank our sponsors, everyone who donated and the practical advice and support that we had from Oxford Brookes University and Oxfordshire County Council. I would also like to thank the Fire and Rescue Services throughout Scotland and England who hosted us throughout the trip."

Councillor Rodney Rose, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Fire and Rescue said: “Residents of Oxfordshire are fortunate that they have an extremely dedicated Fire and Rescue Service who go that extra mile to support the community. I am exceptionally proud of what Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has achieved by going lots of extra miles and for such an excellent cause.”

Martin Smith, Finance Director at The Fire Fighters Charity said: “I am delighted to accept this incredible cheque from the JOGLE 2016 team at Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service following their inspirational John O’Groats to Land’s End cycle ride earlier this year.

“The Charity followed the exploits of the team closely during the event and, just as we touch the lives of firefighters from all areas of the UK by providing life enhancing health and wellbeing services, it was fantastic to see how the whole community came together to support the team as it cycled through different regions and counties.

“The money raised will make a huge difference to the lives of beneficiaries we help on a daily basis and, as we face the challenge of raising increased funds to meet an increasing demand for our services, it is the selfless support of individuals, teams and fire and rescue services like Oxfordshire that will ultimately secure our long term future.”

To read about the experiences of the JOGLE 2016 team at Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, visit their blog at: http://www.jogle2016.co.uk/blog