Portsmouth firefighters raise over £1000 for NASS in Paris to Hayling cycle ride after diagnosis of 'brutal' condition

TWO firefighters have raised £1,430 for a charity which one has received help and support from due to his ‘invisible’ condition.

By Elsa Waterfield
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 4:55 am

Steve Barfoot, who works at Havant fire station and Barry Hodkin, who works at Rushmoor fire station, took part in the Paris to Hayling charity cycle ride.

Steve and Barry met while working for Southsea fire station, and decided to carry out the cycle in aid of National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS) a charity which Steve has been in close contact with ever since being diagnosed with the condition five years ago.

Axial Spondyloarthritis is an inflammatory arthritis of the spine where the main symptom is back pain.

(From l to r) Barry Hodkin and Steve Barfoot cycled 400 miles over five days in the Paris to Hayling charity cycle ride in aid of NASS.

Now 42, it took 22 years for Steve to be diagnosed with the lesser-known condition, with symptoms starting in his teens dismissed as growing pains.

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Steve said: ‘It’s a bit of an invisible condition, you don’t actually know if the person has got it or not, only by certain markers that come up in their blood or MRI scans.

‘Twice as many people have it than MS and Parkinson’s, but everybody knows what they are.’

(From l to r) Barry Hodkin and Steve Barfoot cycled 400 miles over five days in the Paris to Hayling charity cycle ride in aid of NASS.

By cycling the 400-mile route over five days and raising £1,430 for NASS, Steve and Barry hoped to raise awareness for both the charity and the condition.

‘It was a brilliant and well-organised event and it was definitely a challenge, especially with a condition which gives me chronic fatigue and pain – it can be quite brutal,’ adds Steve.

As well as the cycle, the pair held a charity car wash to raise money before the event, with £170 of the funds raised being donated to The Fire Fighters Charity and the rest to NASS.

Steve, who finds the best thing for his condition is to ‘stay active’, hopes to take part in the cycle ride again next year, also in aid of NASS.

(From l to r) Barry Hodkin and Steve Barfoot cycled 400 miles over five days in the Paris to Hayling charity cycle ride in aid of NASS.

‘If you keep moving, your body doesn’t have time to seize up. It was something to train for and having that challenge at the end of it to prove you can still do something, it was amazing.’

‘You can phone up the helpline and the nurses will reply to you on the same day, they just need help in getting the word out about what the condition is.’