Firefighter gets on his bike for charity after being inspired by his former colleague

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A Stirlingshire firefighter is taking on 300 mile charity challenge by cycling the equivalent of London to Paris.

Watch Commander Eddy Fotheringham has been cycling throughout May to fundraise for Blood Cancer UK and has already doubled his fundraising target.

WC Fotheringham, who was inspired by close friend and former firefighter Ally Boyle and his own battle with blood cancer, has already clocked up 247 miles and hopes he can build on his success so far.

And incredibly, he had no cycling experience beforehand.

He said: “I saw Ally was doing a rowing challenge for Blood Cancer UK and I thought if he can do this, and he has blood cancer, I can surely do something. So, I started cycling, although I’ve never cycled before.

“I’ve never done anything like this and I’ve surprised myself. I’ve been going out just about every day and through all weathers.”

Based at Bridge of Allan Fire Station, WC Fotheringham has served with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) for more than 30 years. He started at Bridge of Allan Fire Station as a retained officer, served two years at Bo’ness and then became a wholetime firefighter, spending 28 years at Stirling Fire Station. It was there that he met a young probationer called Ally Boyle and they became colleagues and friends.

Ally quickly rose through the ranks to become Deputy Assistant Chief Officer. Sadly, after a period of feeling unwell, Ally was diagnosed with myelodysplasia, a type of blood cancer that affects the bone marrow in 2008 at only 36, the average age of diagnosis is 71. Despite this devastating diagnosis, Ally kept working until 2014, when he retired from the Service as he became too ill to work.

However Ally went on and founded a partnership between SFRS and the Anthony Nolan organisation which has seen over 18,500 people recruited to the Anthony Nolan register as potential stem cell donors. So far there have been 81 matches and people who have donated their stem cells, potentially saving the lives of others who are in desperate need.

Eddy said: “Ally always stood out. He was a bit of character and you could tell from early on that he was going to go far. We had a lot of laughs and escapades back in the day.”

The two friends have kept in touch throughout the years and Eddy was inspired Ally's rowing challenge.

Ally Boyle said: “As well as being a blood cancer patient, I’m also a Trustee of Blood Cancer UK so I have first-hand experience of the amazing work they do to support people like me. They can only do this because of the fundraising efforts of people like Eddy. I am delighted to see him take on this challenge, he is a great friend and a fantastic representation of the community based values of the SFRS.”

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