Date: 1st March, 2017
A Swanage firefighter is tackling the London Marathon next month – in full fire kit!
Liam Blake will take on the 26-mile race wearing fire helmet, tunic and leggings with a breathing apparatus cylinder on his back – the total weight is around four stone – and it’s only his second marathon, having run his first in Bournemouth last October.
The intention is to raise as much money as possible for the Fire Fighters Charity, and nearly £2,800 has already been pledged by family, friends and the local community – with Swanage Conservative Club giving £400, Scooby Crew giving £120 and a bake sale in the town before Christmas raising some £200.
Yet this isn’t the only challenge being faced by Liam in the coming weeks! Before the race on 23 April, he will be undertaking his final assessment to become a fully qualified firefighter; he will also be taking the test to drive fire engines under blue lights; and, during May, his first child with wife Zoe is due to be born.
He said: “I like to push myself, and it seemed a good idea to run in fire kit as I’m raising money for the Fire Fighters Charity. The daft thing is that I’m not really a keen runner, it’s my wife who loves it, I just sort of joined in.”
Liam joined Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service as an on-call firefighter in 2014, following in the footsteps of his stepdad Tom Reid, who has been an on-call firefighter in Wareham for over 30 years.
His dedication to serving his community is juggled with his primary employment with Swanage Dairy Ltd, and his employers have been very supportive of both his on-call commitments and his current fundraising. Liam said: “They are brilliant, they understand when I’m either late or can’t make it in because there has been a fire call, and they’ve allowed me to maildrop our customers about the challenge, which has led to a big boost to my overall fundraising total.”
Station Commander Phil Burridge added: “As an on-call station, we are reliant on employers being willing to support their staff in being firefighters, either by allowing them to respond to their pagers during the working day or by giving them the flexibility to respond at other times. Liam couldn’t do what he is doing without the backing of Swanage Dairy, and our thanks go to all the employers who help to maintain the emergency response at Swanage fire station.”
To support Liam in his fundraising, visit www.justgiving.com/Liam-Blake1