Our Team – click the name or image for our team bio’s
The team has been formulated from across Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service.
Why are we doing this? In an attempt to raise some essential funds for an extremely important charity, very close to all of our hearts. The Firefighters Charity @firefighters999 @SuffolkFire
Therefore we are looking for….you’ve guessed it, major sponsorship, both individual via the Just Giving link and Corporate via the Corporate Sponsorship page, this will help to achieve our amazing goal.
#supportvehicles #clothing #bikemaintenance #nutrition #foodanddrink #advertisement #socialmediasupport #publications
I have worked for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service for 30 years finishing in 2016 as a Watch Commander, but then re-joined 5 weeks later to join the Fire ICT team…….. so I’m still here. Then, outside the office door a few weeks ago it happened. LEJOG was mentioned and I joined the support team.
In 2001 I broke a few bones (silly me !) and following a couple of operations, I had the privilege to attend the Firefighters Charity rehabilitation centre in Penrith for 2 weeks. Also, many years ago, I had a time in my life when I was struggling. It was not a happy time but with help from a couple of good friends, I made changes, took control, which put me back on track.
Mental health needs more publicity to make the signs and symptoms more recognisable by everyone, so that the issues can be dealt with earlier, and promote wellbeing for everyone.
So, Dotty’s silly idea to do a cycle ride is a great opportunity to support my friends and colleagues, and to pay a little back.
Chief Fire Officer Mark Hardingham
I feel like a bit of a fraud sharing my bio on here as I’m only doing one leg of the trip (although may well be talked into a second if my legs still work after 100 miles). My excuse is someone needs to be back in the Service while this lot take in the sights of the UK – but that’s only really because I haven’t got a better excuse.
I cycled everywhere as a kid – school, mates houses, football, nights out. I used to be able to cycle 3 miles to school without touching my handlebars – not going to try that again this time! But this will be the first time I’ve cycled more than about 20 miles so I’m certainly no veteran.
Anyway, I’ll have been in the fire service for nearly 30 years when the ride takes place, the last 10 in Suffolk and 7 as Chief Fire Officer. I’m fortunate to work in a fire service with some incredible people and I’ve got nothing but admiration for the dedication and commitment of everyone taking part, the ride itself is a massive challenge and the organisation that’s going into it, including trying to raise more than £50k for mental health charities is outstanding, and great fun…so please give generously as mental health touches all of us.
Hazel “H” Baldwin
As well as being a proud female Firefighter, I am also a professional Yoga Teacher, Personal trainer and Nutritionalist. I feel extremely lucky to be part of this team as we head towards the epic challenge of cycling from Lands End to John O Groats in just 10 days. However, that is the easy part of this challenge. The toughest part will be to change the perception of mental health across the UK as we expose ourselves via daily Vlogs.
The role of Firefighters gives us the prime opportunity to talk about mental health issues, how we cope and how we sometimes don’t! This incredible challenge will give us all a platform to share our stories and put mental health issues in the spot light. I will also get to hang out with the most amazing and inspirational Fire Service friends. I will be blogging, vlogging and interviewing the team as we go. Fundraising all the way and asking you lovely people for your support and money. And of course aiding our team with mind and body management during this massive challenge.
One of the more senior (experienced) team members supporting the cycling challenge. In my day role, I work with my colleagues as the health and safety adviser, but when off duty enjoy riding motorcycles (safely of course) dispelling some of the myths of health and safety advisers as risk adverse and working with the two-wheel community as part of the Fire Bike team promoting safe riding.
My working career started with BT as an engineer and after 28 years couldn’t resist the temptation in a career change to join Suffolk Fire in 2001. Apart from a sabbatical with Suffolk Constabulary, I’ve remained with the service. Wellbeing is my passion especially around reducing injuries, mental health and fitness, so it was a no-brainer in supporting the LEJOG team. In my role, it’s a privilege to work with a team of professionals who are dedicated in helping people, but sometimes work and personal pressures can take their toll on the team, so if I can help in easing those pressures by talking and signposting, I’m committed in making a difference.
The reference to ‘Private Godfrey’ came about after the ‘Dads Army Tour’ on our motorbikes to the WW1 & 2 battlefields and we were assigned our character names, which we wore on our high-visibility vests and the ‘mole’ in the picture goes back to my BT days when I was on ‘holes & poles’.
Kevin “Pocket Rocket” Driver
I’ve been a Firefighter with Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service for 18 years and currently serve on Green Watch at Princes Street Fire Station in Ipswich. I still love riding fire engines and physically helping members of the public when they need us most, some of us have to remain Firefighters to keep the officers in check and point them in the right direction 😉. I’m also Suffolk Fire Brigades Union Brigade Secretary, a role that I’m very proud to have been voted into and hold.
Why ride the length of the UK in 10 days?
1) because it’s there. Why wouldn’t you want to put yourself through 10 days of torture?!?
2) and most importantly, to raise as much money as possible for a very worthy charity, The Firefighters Charity and also vitally, increase mental health awareness.
What will I find most difficult?
1) the physical effort of riding 100 miles a day for 10 days straight.
2) the mental effort to fight through the difficult periods that will inevitably occur.
3) exploring and questioning my own mental wellbeing as we embark on this epic journey.
4) spending 10 days with 2 Liverpool fans after they’ve been crowned (we have now 😂🙌) Premier League champions 😩😂 (I’m a life long Everton supporter)
Mental health is something that can affect us as Firefighters, we see and experience things that most members of society will fortunately never encounter. We have to realise it’s ok to talk about what we experience and how we feel. We’re not alone. It’s ok, not to be ok. But it’s not just us as Firefighters that can experience mental health issues, anyone can have concerns over their mental wellbeing. If us as a team, riding from one end of the UK to the other, raises awareness and helps just one person through a difficult period of their life, then this whole arduous journey will be worth it. After all, that is what we as Firefighters do, we work together as a team to help people.
Darren “Dotty” Cooper
I have been a Firefighter for 24 years in Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service. During this time I have had the great honour and privilege of serving alongside some of the finest Firefighters and Support staff from across Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service. Now I get to ride with them for 10 days in September 2020, why?
For me It’s simple!!!!!!!!!!!
A dedicated bunch of friends/Firefighters focussed and committed to raising awareness around mental health and wellbeing, by cycling from Lands End to John O Grotes. Everyday during the challenge we will be delivering keys messages around maintaining personal wellbeing, as well as our own personal accounts and emotions from each day as we travel the whole of the UK.
Approx 1000 miles, climbing roughly 50,000ft over 10 days. Our goal is to Raise £50,000-£100,000 for the Firefighters Charity.
Supported by our friends and colleagues across the UK Fire and Rescue community, we will cycle this once in a life time, epic journey.
Join us, #TheLongestRideTeam as we prepare for and complete September’s challenge.
Support us, Donate to the cause, Like and Share our posts and spread the word to everyone.
Help us remove the stigma associated with Mental Health
Dave “Fluffy” Edwards
This is an opportunity to raise money for, and to highlight a worthy charity, whilst completing an iconic event.
By completing the event and achieving our goals, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service and all those supporting us will have the opportunity to fund the new mental health suite at Harcombe House – Firefighters Charity, which would be a massive achievement.
I have planned the route and booked some of the accommodation, so fingers crossed!
Self Appointed Morale Officer.
I have been with Suffolk Fire and Rescue for 9 years serving the on-call and wholetime service.
I regularly raise money for the Fire Fighters charity and love a new challenge. I was part of the world record breaking rugby team, who now hold the record for the longest game of rugby.
I love the idea of a group of us pulling together through thick and thin and becoming stronger and stronger as the challenge gets harder. Our goal at the mental health suite at the Firefighters charity HQ driving us forward.
My family are my inspiration and they provide me with love and support.
I have set myself a personal goal to make the summer ball a huge success and to not only raise much needed funds but to create a night for everyone to enjoy and remember.
4 & 1/2 years in the Royal Engineers, served in Kosovo and Afghanistan. 17 years in Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service. Currently Station Commander – Operational Equipment.
“I’m really honoured to be part of the Suffolk Fire LEJOG Team. What an amazing opportunity to take part in something special, raising money for an extremely worthwhile cause and raising awareness around Mental Health issues.
Too many people needlessly suffer in silence. We need to let them know they’re not alone and that help is available. There is no shame in asking for help.
“It’s okay not to be okay“
I’ve been a Firefighter with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue for 28 years and I’ve served at various stations within the county.
I’ve seen things that most people will thankfully never see, but due to the nature of the fire service family, there’s always someone to help and talk to.
I enjoy every aspect of being lucky enough to be able to get outside and enjoy “The Great Outdoors”, (especially having the peak district on my doorstep) whether it be cycling, kitesurfing or walking the dogs with my family.
After meeting up and spending a day cycling with the group, I was honoured and privileged when they contacted me and asked me to join the team on this epic adventure.
It’s been on my bucket list for years to ride the length of the UK, so I jumped at the chance.
Some of the reasons for doing this challenge are,
1. To send a message about The positive impacts of physical exercise for improving mental health.
2. Having the chance again to raise money for the FireFighters Charity
3. To be able to challenge myself with the mental and physical aspects of this adventure and knowing others will benefit from the team’s efforts.
4. Promoting that anything is possible if you keep focused and put your mind to it.
5. Talk about bikes lol.
Please support us in any way you can, every little helps!!!
Take care and hopefully see you out on the road!
As an individual with over 23 years’ service and a very proud member of the fire service community, I feel extremely privileged to have been invited to join this incredible team on its epic journey. My role in the team, apart from working closely with our very own Fire Fighters Charity, is to provide drafting opportunities for team members when we face the dreaded ‘head wind’. My personal training ‘mantra’ leading up to this event will be, ‘Conditioning over carbon’, as stated by a previous training partner (you know who you are!).
Why take part in such an event? It’s easy; There are so many individuals who are not able to take part in these type of events, through either physical or mental health limitations. For me to take part and be open & honest about my journey, I hope in some way it will give others inspiration and with the funds we raise along our journey, give people the opportunity to seek help and achieve their own personal LEJOG, whatever that may be.
My family are so supportive. In fact when I told my wife I was going away for two weeks and I might lose some weight, she did not hesitate in responding to ‘Dotty’, on my behalf, requesting we do the return leg straight after reaching John O Groats!
Please support us in anyway you can, even if it is just spreading a kind word about our epic journey. Good luck to all the team, see you in John O Groats!
I have worked within Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service since 2013 in various roles, and rejoining the on-call service this year after 7 months working as a Crew Manager in Ascension Island (a dot in the middle of the South Atlantic).
I have made the decision to offer my support to the cycling team, through experience of long distance cycling in the past. Being part of a team of 100 cyclists from Bury St Edmunds rugby club in 2014 cycling home from Paris. Realising how hard the the support crew worked to ensure the success of the cyclists, I am keen to give that support to my colleagues in ensuring we can raise as much money for charity as possible.
Raising awareness of mental health in society is important, and to me raising it within the area I work in is just as important.
A great opportunity to meet new people and gain exciting experiences along the way!
Well having retired from the fire service this year after 27 years’ service and served 2 tours with the Royal Marines Commandos I thought I would have a little rest.
When I heard the cycle, team needed a support team I jumped at the chance to help the guys. It’s a great opportunity to support with a great bunch of people whom I have worked with over many years in the fire service.
Many of the team have helped me through my mental health journey and supported many other colleagues.
Being in the fire service or any or the services exposes the individual to many stresses, mental health is a subject that should not be kept in the dark, it is an injury or illness like a broken arm or a virus that with the right help and support can be repaired.
I am privileged to be allowed to help these dedicated people to complete the Lands’ End to John O’Groats challenge in ten days.
Group Commander overseeing the Blue Light Integration Plan.
I’ve been in the Service for just over 25 years and to say the time has flown by is an understatement. Previous to becoming a Firefighter I worked for a small engineering company making piling equipment. I’ve had an amazing 25 years in the service having worked, at some point, with everyone in this fantastic team.
When Dotty called me and said “do you want to go for a bike ride, it’s not far and there’s not too many hills” I believed him! LOL. But what an honour and privilege it is to be included in this experience which will do so much to raise mental health awareness.
I’ve been riding regularly for the last 6 years so I’ve had a little bit of practice but this challenge is on another level.
Riding to raise money and awareness for such a worthy cause is reward in itself but to know our efforts will benefit others is truly inspiring.
My role working towards our goal is to arrange training rides, with the coffee/cake stops 😊 and helping to run the finances.
I have been in the fire service for 17 years and I am currently a Watch Commander of Blue Watch Princes Street. I have been given so many opportunities and am so fortunate to work with a great bunch.
In my spare time I am a District Commissioner in the Scout association which keeps me on my toes but gives incredible fulfilment working with so many dedicated volunteers and of course amazing young people.
I am honoured to be part of this team to raise Mental health awareness and hopefully we will raise the funds to complete such an amazing project. I cycled West to East in 2016 so this will sign off the other part of the puzzle.
I also hope that I will be able to influence other people to challenge themselves and achieve their goals in life.
I’m sure its not only going to be an incredible 10 days but something to remember for a life time.
I’ve worked for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service for 25 years doing a variety of roles from firefighter to manager. I proactively support women in the service as the FBU Women’s Rep and Deputy Chair of Suffolk Women in Fire Together (SWIFT).
I’m honoured to have been asked to be a team member in this challenge. My main role is part of the support team, project management, liaison with Suffolk County Council and I champion tackling the stigma people face regarding mental health illness. I advocate mental health awareness and have fundraised for MIND as part of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service’s Great East Team. The ethos of our LEJOG team, ‘Nobody’s Alone’ is something I particularly believe in.
I’m looking forward to cycling on one of the days of the challenge and being part of an amazing, highly motivated team who care about each other, the communities we live in and who understand that , ‘It’s OK not to be OK’.
Ken “Dusty” Williamson
aka “The Guvnor”
Self-employed 8 years, 28 years in the Fire and Rescue Service, Area Commander.
“I’m really proud to be part of Suffolk Fire and rescue Service and Suffolk’s LEJOG Team. Mental health issues have touched many of us directly, family members or people we know. It’s an honour to be involved in something special to raise awareness around mental health issues and raise money for extremely worthwhile causes.
We all need to continue the conversation around mental health issues and not remain silent. There is no shame in asking for help and we are not alone.
“It’s ok not to be ok “
I was thankfully given the opportunity to participate in this remarkable event to raise significant funds for @Firefighters999.
My role in proceedings (other than riding the distance) is web design and updates, logo creation, social media and publications for the whole event.
I intend to make contact with some “BIG” benefactors to assist us in achieving our goal commencing 20th September.
Thank you, your support is greatly received!
22 years with Suffolk Fire and Rescue service.
Being able to take part in this event and supporting this very important charity is a real privilege.
I’m sure as a team we will do them proud, raising much needed funds and promoting the great work they do.
I will be assisting with all events that are planned.
Really looking forward to this challenge.
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