A team of firefighters from Haywards Heath Fire Station have raised more than £1,000 for The Fire Fighters Charity in memory of their former crew commander after cycling 100 miles along the South Downs Way.
Despite two members of the team not having ridden a bike in more than a decade, the team set off from Winchester at 8am on Friday morning, and peddled for more than 16 hours over the course of the weekend, taking into account food stops and rest breaks, eventually making it to the finish line in Eastbourne at 4.30pm on Saturday.
The crew have been raising money in memory of Mark Butler, who served as a firefighter for 37 years before losing a battle with leukaemia in May 2019.
Haywards Heath Firefighter Gavin Twinn said: “We knew it was going to be a challenge, but nothing can really prepare you for being out on the Downs in the howling wind and driving rain and hail when the finish line seems so far away, but eventually the sun came back out in blustery Sussex.
“We all spurred each other on, and despite a couple of mishaps – including two tumbles and a slight injury to two of the team members, we kept pushing on.
“We received so much support over the weekend from family, friends, colleagues and people we have never met – and this really kept us going. It was fantastic to know there was so much support out there for this event.”
But the 100 mile cycle event was just a warm up act for another fitness fundraiser that the crew have planned for next month when they take on the Three Peaks Challenge between September 28 and 30. This will see them scale the three highest peaks on British mainland – Ben Nevis in Scotland, Scafell Pike in England and Snowdon in Wales all while wearing full fire kit and breathing apparatus.
Firefighter Adam Butler added: “This really is going to take all of our determination and drive. Our fire kit and breathing apparatus weighs in at around 20kg, so imagine that while scaling the three highest peaks in Britain. But the whole point is that it is going to be challenging and push us to our limits.
“Hopefully this event will really boost our fundraising for The Fire Fighters Charity in memory of Mark and exceed our £2,500 target.”
You can follow the crew’s training for the event on the Bald4Butler Facebook page, or Instagram and twitter bald4butler2020 and donate to support their fundraising here: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/b4b2020