Blazing Saddles Isle of Wight Firemen on Charity Ride from Newport to Rome.
Holy Smoke! A team of Isle of Wight fire-fighters are to embark on a gruelling 1,400 mile charity cycle ride from Newport to Vatican City, Rome. The team from Newport Fire Station hope the marathon ride will raise £25,000 for the Wessex Cancer Trust to support Island cancer patients.
It is a follow up to the Square to Square ride in 2005 when a team of fire-fighters cycled 1,000 miles from St Thomas’ Square in Newport to the main square in the Czech Republic capital of Prague raising £12,500 for island charities.
Last year’s major fundraising effort, a trek around the Island’s coastline called The Wight Extreme Hike raised £18,000, again for Wessex Cancer Trust. The latest Square to Square ride will be launched on Saturday September 15 2007 at Seaclose Park, Newport at approx 12;15 as part of the launch of the IOW cycling festival.
In a years time the team will be arriving in Vatican City having left the island on August 31st 2008 from St Thomas’ Square, Newport. They will complete a lap of the Island, calling in at fire stations along the way, before leaving . After taking a cross-Channel ferry to Caen they will then travel down through France.
Then comes the most arduous stretch of the journey – across the Alps – before homing in on the Vatican.
“We hope to cycle about 100 miles a day which will be pretty demanding,” said watch manager Kelvin Wright who is organising the effort along with fire control operator Andrew Cooper.
“It is going to take some serious training and there is no doubt the hardest bit will be going over the Alps.”
The team a mixture of full-time and retained duty system firefighters supported by four colleagues will look to stay at camp sites along the way.
“We will also be making contact with both the French and Italian Fire Services about the possibility of staying on fire Stations on the route,” said Kelvin.
“When firefighters turn up at a station anywhere in the world they do all they can to help so hopefully we’ll be OK.”
Before setting out Kelvin and Andrew plan to drive the chosen route to check that it is indeed the best option.
“We didn’t do that last time and what we thought would be the easiest route turned out to be pretty difficult”
“When we were overtaken by a ski-lift overhead we knew we weren’t on the flattest route so we hope to avoid that mistake this trip,” Kelvin said.
Fundraising events will be held regularly prior to the big day and already local businesses are rallying to the cause.
BECO (â€itâ€™s all about marketingâ€) have been extremely generous in their support designing and producing all the promotional literature.
Wight Mountain will be supplying the bikes for the ride, one of which will be a main raffle prize along with cycle equipment totalling £600. Olivo’s restaurant in St Thomas’s Square along with the IOW Fire and Rescue Service, IW Council and Wessex Cancer Trust are all giving valuable support.
Local dignitaries and Isle of Wight Council representatives have been invited to the launch event at Seaclose Park. Both the team and the support crew will be there along with representatives of the Wessex Cancer Trust. A fire appliance and the turntable ladder will also be in attendance.
“The money raised would be used to buy equipment that would benefit cancer patients on the Island and would make a big difference to people’s lives.
“If we can buy just one piece of equipment we can make a difference to people’s lives.”
Cllr Ian Ward, IW Council cabinet member for Safer Communities and Fire Modernisation, said:
“We all know what a superb job our fire-fighters do in their professional lives but it never ceases to impress me just how community minded and intrepid they are outside of work as well.”
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