A group of 14 fire and rescue service personnel are cycling the length of the UK in support of The Fire Fighters Charity – while raising awareness of the mental health challenges they and their colleagues face every day.

The team, from both Suffolk and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services, will also have five supporters from the service with them. They will set off from Land’s End on 20 September 2021 and aim to reach John O’Groats 10 days and 1,000 miles later.

The aim is to raise £50,000 for The Fire Fighters Charity, with the funds going towards transforming the outdoor space and garden at Jubilee House in Penrith - one of three residential centres run by the Charity. This space will be a valuable aid when it comes to promoting the therapeutic benefits of the outdoors for beneficiaries.

The Fire Fighters Charity supports the health and wellbeing of all serving and retired members of the fire service community, as well as their spouses, partners and dependants.

Suffolk Station Commander, Darren Cooper, first came up with the idea for the challenge and says: “The money we’d like to raise will make a huge difference in supporting mental health. The transformed outdoor space at Jubilee House will positively benefit our firefighter colleagues and families.

“But equally, this is a journey we are making to raise awareness and remove the stigma surrounding mental health. Each member of the team will produce a daily video to share stories and emotions which have shaped them as individuals from their personal and/or professional lives. They will provide key messages and coping strategies that can support people’s wellbeing and prove that ‘it’s ok not to be ok’. We aim to get the UK talking about mental health.

“The £50K we’re aiming to raise is hugely valuable in the support that it will provide, but if we can reach one person and they seek help, then our job is done. On a personal level, it will be a physical challenge greater than anything any of us have faced before.”

Dr Jill Tolfrey, chief executive of The Fire Fighters Charity, says: “We are delighted to offer our full support to the whole team as it sets off on The Longest Ride. Every pound raised will allow us to fund life-enhancing health and wellbeing support – at our centres, through our outdoor spaces and online – for members of the fire services community in need today. On behalf of everyone at the Charity, as well as our beneficiaries, we wish you the very best of luck for a safe, successful – and dry – ride!”

The team welcomes donations and would love to hear from businesses interested in sponsoring the challenge, either financially or by providing equipment.