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Ipswich firefighters prepare to take the plunge at Great East Swim

PUBLISHED: 18:02 05 June 2018 | UPDATED: 18:02 05 June 2018

Fourteen members of the fire service are taking part in the Great East Swim for mental health charity Mind Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Fourteen members of the fire service are taking part in the Great East Swim for mental health charity Mind Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Fundraising firefighters are making a splash for a good cause at one of Suffolk’s biggest charity challenges this summer.

Emma Graham, Wayne Crabb and Sally Hammond get ready for the swim  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNEmma Graham, Wayne Crabb and Sally Hammond get ready for the swim Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Hundreds of people of all ages and abilities are taking to the water for this year’s swim on Saturday, June 23.

Hosted at Alton Water, it is the county’s biggest open water swimming event, and collects several thousands of pounds for charity.

Team members from the Princes Street fire station will be taking on the challenge for the second year in a row.

They decided to participate in memory of their colleague Tony Bickers, who died after being struck by a train in 2016.

Dale Mason, Craig Chidlow, Wayne Crabb, David Edwards andNigel Vincent will be taking part in the Great East Swim Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDale Mason, Craig Chidlow, Wayne Crabb, David Edwards andNigel Vincent will be taking part in the Great East Swim Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Station commander Sally Hammond, who lost her brother to suicide in 2016, is taking part in the swim to raise awareness of mental health issues.

She said training was well underway, and added: “It’s going quite well. I think there are different levels of training.

“Most of our people are not natural swimmers.”

Firefighters at the station will be taking on different distances for the swim – with most taking part in the two mile category.

Finn McDonald and Theo Summerscales at the 2017 Great East Swim at Alton Water
 Picture: SEANA HUGHESFinn McDonald and Theo Summerscales at the 2017 Great East Swim at Alton Water Picture: SEANA HUGHES

The team, along with the rest of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, are signed up to mental health charity Mind’s Blue Light Programme.

It was set up to support members of the emergency services with mental health issues.

Mrs Hammond said: “We need staff to talk more about mental health and recognise that mental health is as important as physical health.

“Getting fire crews involved in this is good for their mental health.”

Dale Mason, left, took on the London Marathon in full kit back in April, is swimming at this year's event. Here, he is pictured with Ed Trevaskis Picture: GREGG BROWNDale Mason, left, took on the London Marathon in full kit back in April, is swimming at this year's event. Here, he is pictured with Ed Trevaskis Picture: GREGG BROWN

Dale Mason, who took on the London marathon earlier this year in full kit, is getting ready to make a splash at this year’s event.

Mr Mason also swam in 2017, and aims to smash his time later this month.

Chief fire officer Mark Hardingham is also taking part.

Last year the crews managed to raise over £4,000 for charity – and they are hoping to match this in a few weeks’ time.

Ipswich firefighter Dale Mason ran the London Marathon in full kit to raise cash for Mind Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNIpswich firefighter Dale Mason ran the London Marathon in full kit to raise cash for Mind Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“We will try and raise as much as we can,” said Mrs Hammond.

As well as taking part in the swim itself the station will also be holding other fundraising activities including cake sales.

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