£1,500 raised in memory of firefighters during South Downs Way overnight challenge

A team of fundraising firefighters have completed the 100 miles South Downs Way by bike to raise more than £1,500 for a cause close to their heart.

Horsham Black Watch Manager Jamie Cox and East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service Watch Manager Duncan Thomson set off from Winchester shortly before 6pm on Friday evening and pedalled through the night with a team of cyclists and a support vehicle to arrive into Eastbourne on Saturday just after midday.

They were given a proper send off from Winchester on Friday evening by the duty crew from Winchester Fire Station and were welcomed across the finish line by the watch in Eastbourne on Saturday.

The team were raising money for The Fire Fighters Charity in memory of two former colleagues, Haywards Heath Crew Manager Mark Butler who lost his battle with leukaemia in 2019 and Simon Constable, who was James’ Watch Manager when they both served together at East Grinstead. Simon suffered a stroke in 2019.

The team was supported by members of the MUckfied Wheelers Mountain Bike Group and The Electric Bike Shop in Uckfield along the route.

Jamie said: “The ride was tough at times when the body clock was getting confused and fatigue kicked in telling us to sleep, but with caffeine and energy gel we managed to complete the ride at 12.20pm on Saturday, with total moving time of 14 hours.

“Along the way we were treated to some spectacular views, with an amazing sunset, moonlit skies and a beautiful sunrise. There were areas where we had to reduce speed due to the flinty downhills and during the hot periods. We were lucky to only experience one mechanical issue with a tyre, but fortunately we completed the route without any injuries.

“I would like to extend special thanks to Jason Setford-Smith the organiser of the MUckfield Wheelers Mountain Bike Group who stayed up all night driving across the county with spares and supplies.

“Hopefully this event as part of an annual charity event to remember Mark and Simon has raised awareness of the charity and all the good work they do for firefighters and their families across the UK. If one group’s challenge and donation money can make a difference to someone else’s life for the better then all the hard work is worth it.”

There is still time to donate to support the team’s fundraising efforts. You can donate using their online JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/sdw2023