Thurso firefighters harness pedal power to raise funds for mental health services

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By Jamie Milligan

Cycle

A crew of firefighters are jumping on their bikes to raise funds for those suffering the impact of COVID-19 and national lockdown.

Retained firefighters at Highland’s Thurso Fire Station are getting ready to cycle 100 miles across Caithness, checking in at every fire station in the region along the way.

The daunting charity cycle is to raise funds for local mental health services after the crew saw the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of people locally and nationally.

Their effort comes shortly after the Scottish Fire and Rescue launched its first ever Mental Health Strategy which has been welcomed by both HRH Prince William and Safer Communities Minister Ash Denham.

The crew also intend to raise funds for the Fire Fighters Charity - a cause close to their hearts. Firefighter Craig Anderson helped plan the cycle.

Craig, who also works as a Wholetime firefighter in Dounreay, said: "We've seen locally, and nationally, that people are struggling with their mental health as a result of COVID-19 and the lockdown.

"People on their own may have struggled and we know people here are reliant on local mental health services.

"We're aware it can be hard and wanted to do something to help."

With less than two weeks to go before their quest begins, Craig and his colleagues are feeling confident.

While social distancing remains a challenge, the 32-year-old is hoping colleagues and locals come out to show their support.

He said: "We're feeling pretty confident and have got a few miles in already - the local community always gets behind us and have supported us brilliantly with past events.

"We're hoping to stop off at every station in the Caithness area and to get a picture with the crew there.

"We've still got a couple of weeks to go, but we're feeling good and looking forward to the challenge."

The SFRS unveiled its Mental Health Strategy in June to encourage staff to speak out and also equip them to spot the signs of mental ill health in others.

Chief Officer Martin Blunden said: “We will always be there for any staff member experiencing mental ill health - but it is vital that we are proactive in our efforts.”

To donate to the Thurso crew’s challenge visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/thursofirestation999?fbclid=IwAR16Jw5Pk0CR35IzVW-lpv_HEIxZES6z7aFxMJJXXqtXhJgFkzpvFXdC75E

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