A 12-year-old autistic schoolboy and charity fundraiser is taking on a new ‘75 challenge’ to boost the coffers of The Fire Fighters Charity.
Andrew Impey, from Southsea, plans to be cycling for 75 hours, visit 75 fire stations, have 75 people participating, take 75 photos and have 75 cups of tea involved.
He is now aiming to raise £750 after beating his initial £75 target. This will be added to Andrew’s fundraising mission to visit all 2,500 fire stations in the country which has reached more than £2,100.
He will be cycling the 300-mile route from Tadley Fire Station to Lands End in Cornwall starting on August 20.
“I wanted to do something to help firefighters and raise awareness of autism.
“I think they do an amazing job, not everyone knows all the things they do besides fighting fires.
“I am excited about my cycle ride and visiting my friends from stations I have been to before.”
Andrew’s challenge started when his parents took him to Havant Fire Station on Christmas Eve in 2014.
He then went on to visit all the stations in Hampshire and many departments, often several times, before deciding to launch a national fundraiser.
After making numerous friends in the county he has gone on to tick off more than 1,000 stations in the UK, 51 in New York, 10 in Denmark and two in France.
He has also arranged two bike rides previously both of which made money for The Fire Fighters Charity and raised awareness about autism.
Andrew’s mum Kirstine said:
“When Andrew started this he was struggling at school, he couldn’t read he couldn’t write.
“Now going on this journey he has learned to talk to people. He is doing radio and TV interviews – and while he is doing it he has a big smile on his face.
“The fire service has given me a son I didn’t have before.”
He was joined on the cycle rides by Hampshire firefighters including Deputy Chief Fire Officer Andy Bowers who plans to join Andrew for part of his 14-day journey.
Last year he invited the entire service to his birthday party and several crews attended including DCFO Bowers.
Andrew also attends emergency services shows and expos and has picked up hundreds of trinkets and bits of kit from his visits and exhibitions.
The fire service fan has transformed his room into a fire station with more than 30 helmets, piles of tunics, a control room map of London, a mini breathing apparatus set and even a firefighters’ pole.
He has won numerous gongs for his determination including the prestigious Diana Award.
DCFO Bowers said:
"Andrew's achievements and dedication to the service are truly remarkable.
"He is very much a member of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service family and we are proud that his special journey started here.”
The Fire Fighters Charity helps people across the fire community who need physical, mental or emotional support and are running a #My75Miles challenge.