We’re used to seeing fire engines on our streets.
But imagine the stir a UK fire truck could cause as it trundles through Times Square in New York, or through the desert of the Western Sahara.
And picture the epic sense of achievement if you are one of the 25-strong crew responsible for taking a fire engine across the globe – and raising more than £103,000 in the process.
That is the incredible accomplishment of the Follow That Fire Engine team, which has set the Guinness World Record for the longest journey in a fire engine, after circumnavigating the globe in a Mercedes 1124 AF fire engine.
The team have travelled through 28 countries on five continents with ‘Martha’ the truck since July last year, to raise vital cash for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, The Fire Fighters Charity and Macmillan Cancer Support.
And 100 per cent of the funds raised will go to the three chosen charities as the crew footed the entire bill for the trip themselves – paying for food, fuel, travel and shipping expenses out of their own pockets.
The team worked shifts to clock up a staggering 30,000 miles and experienced everything from the rainy season in Thailand, to summer in Australia, as well as being the first Western fire engine allowed into China.
Among the team members was former Horndean Community School student Amy Harpin, 32.
Her partner Steve Moore masterminded the epic trip in memory of his dad Garth, pictured, – a firefighter with Dorset Fire and Rescue Service for more than 30 years – who lost his lengthy battle with lung cancer in June 2009, aged 63.
She says: ‘It was 10 to 12 hours a day in the back of a truck – it was quite hard work!
‘We had some amazing experiences but it was quite difficult running the charity out of the back of a fire engine.
‘Ultimately the hardest thing was shipping it. It was the first Western fire engine to get into China. It was a year’s worth of paperwork just to get in.
‘It was epic. It was an incredible experience and the people we met along the way really made the expedition so much more magical. So many people around the world have been touched by cancer – we had a lot of support.’
Amy adds: ‘Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge or Times Square in New York in a fire engine is something you never think you are ever going to do. It’s impossible to think of how many people have helped us around the world.’