Vintage fire truck gets a festive makeover for charity collection drive in Portchester

FIREFIGHTERS had some help with their annual charity collection last night '“ as Santa swapped his sleigh for a fire truck.Â

Sunday, 23rd December 2018, 10:44 am
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:45 am
Portchester firefighters were joined by two local children and Father Christmas as they surrounded a vintage Dennis pump escape. Picture: Malcolm Wells (181221-1231)

Crew members from Portchester Fire Station had been fundraising throughout the day in Portchester Precinct, before driving through the area with a vintage fire truck decorated for Christmas. 

Jasper Taylor, 61, a firefighter for 31 years and community inclusion officer at the station, said: '˜We're a community fire station, so we like to put back into the community.

'˜We have three children who live locally and we want to support them and their families and make their lives better, as well as the Fire Fighters Charity.

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'˜It's about giving back.' 

Supported children include a seven-year-old boy from Portchester who suffered a severe head injury two years ago. 

Beneficiaries will also include The Fire Fighters Charity, which supports current and former firefighters, and several local charities that support people with disabilities, including Family Autistic Spectrum Support in Fareham. 

Paul Ponsford, 55, a fireman for 14 years in Gosport,  is currently supported by the Fire Fighters Charity after he suffered a bleed on the brain three years ago. He said: '˜Every year me and my wife come out to support the charity. 

'˜I've been to their recovery centre twice '“ they do great work.'

Andy Earl, 50, a full-time firefighter for more than 29 years, said: '˜My dad was a fireman. Back when I was a kid, they used to decorate an engine, drive it around the streets, and collect for charity. 

'˜My dad used to come home and tip out all these coins to count '“ it was like pirate treasure.

'˜It's fantastic to be part of this.'

The fire station's Christmas street collection with a fire engine returned last year after a 31-year hiatus, as the station was offered the use of an out-of-service vehicle. Portchester-based fire service conservationist Paul McKay donated the use of his Dennis RS fire engine, the UK's longest serving pump escape vehicle. 

Last year the crew raised more than £4,000 for their chosen charities.