THEY’RE usually tackling fires, giving safety advice and saving people’s lives.
But every once in a while firefighters do something special for those they serve in the community.
Once a year members of Cosham fire station put on a Christmas party for seriously-ill children who are being cared for at Queen Alexandra Hospital.
And the latest action-packed bash proved to be a success as scores of families turned out for the occasion at the weekend.
Firefighters transformed half of the station into a Christmas grotto and held a magic show for the children.
There was also a room full of animals for children to admire including guinea pigs, mice, a cat, meerkats and a python.
Santa waved to everyone as he was ‘rescued’ from the top of the station’s training tower on a ladder.
He then distributed gifts which had been bought by the firefighters to all the youngsters inside his grotto.
There was also a buffet for everyone to enjoy.
Sarah Young, 39, of Cosham, came along with her niece Daisy Mai, four.
Daisy Mai was diagnosed with leukaemia in July but is now in remission.
Sarah said: ‘It’s been a great day.
‘It’s wonderful for the children.
‘It’s been a very tough time for all the family.
‘Everyone has put so much effort into making this day happen.
‘You don’t realise how much support there is for people with conditions like leukaemia until it happens to someone so close to you.
‘There’s more than enough here to keep all the children occupied.’
A total of 25 students from South Downs College, in Waterlooville, donated around £1,100 towards the running of the party.
They raised the sum through runs from the college to Southsea fire station and back and up and down Butser Hill.
Jude Allen, two, who suffers from intestinal failure, enjoyed petting one of the rabbits. Jude, of Purbrook, came along with his mum Kellie Allen, 34.
Kellie said: ‘It’s an amazing day for him. He’s been thoroughly entertained.
‘He recognises some of the children here from his time in hospital which is nice.
‘It’s amazing that the firefighters have given up their time to do this. They didn’t have to do anything.’
Crew manager Stu Vince said: ‘We’ve been holding these parties now for the last six or seven years.
‘What makes all our efforts worthwhile is seeing the smiles on the children’s faces when they see Santa and get a present. It makes you feel emotional seeing what they go through.
‘The event also provided us with a great opportunity to teach the children about the dangers of fire and made sure they knew how to stay safe during the festive season.’