Portsmouth firefighters prepare for Everest challenge

Firefighters are preparing for an Everest trek in aid of a charity close to the heart of the service.

Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 11:06 am
Updated Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 11:13 am
Hampshire Fire Service kick off training at Villlage Gym for Everest Climb Picture: Darren Coates D&M Photography

Members of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service are starting preparations for the ascent to the Everest Base Camp at the Village Hotel in Portsmouth.

The group of 14, from Southsea and Cosham stations, are set to begin their expedition to Mount Everest in Nepal, in November.

They are raising money for the Fire Fighters Charity, an organisation which helps to rehabilitate firefighters, both mentally and physically, as well as providing support for their families.

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Hampshire Fire Service kick off training at Village Gym for Everest Climb Picture: Darren Coates D&M Photography

Craig Sadler, watch manager for the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said the ‘penny dropped’ while on holiday in Wales with his family. He said: ‘Every year we raise money for the Fire Fighters Charity.

‘I try and think of ways to challenge myself and the team.’

Mrs Sadler described how the group would be climbing to just above the Everest Base Camp, a journey of around 18,000ft, where temperatures can reach -37C.

He added that he had ‘seen first hand, people who suffered from poor mental health’. As part of his awareness, he encourages the team to seek help where needed, bringing in guest speakers to talk about how the charity has helped them to continue operational duty after trauma.

Hampshire Fire Service at the Villlage Gym Picture: Darren Coates D&M Photography

Group member Kevin Page said the charity was a ‘big support mechanism’ for him, after being told by doctors he would never be able to return to his duties. The charity provided the help needed to continue what he loved.

He said: ‘If it was not for the Fire Fighters Charity, I would not be back to doing this.’

In a bid to help the group, The Village Hotel has offered its facilities for training in preparation for the climb. Services at the hotel include a gym with 24/7 access and a 20m swimming pool.

Hotel general manager Michael Horner said the service already had a link with the business, following the hotel’s mission to put ‘100 hours of voluntary service back into the community’.

He said: ‘We get you fit... you climb Everest.’