Northamptonshire firefighter turns heads on charity cycle challenge to mark his retirement

Paul Cushing (second from right) prepares to set off on his fundraising ride with (from left to right) sister-in-law Esme, son Reece and NFRS colleague Kev Hardwick outside Moulton station
Paul Cushing (second from right) prepares to set off on his fundraising ride with (from left to right) sister-in-law Esme, son Reece and NFRS colleague Kev Hardwick outside Moulton station

A Northamptonshire firefighter has marked his approaching retirement after 31 years’ service by doing a charity bike ride in full breathing apparatus.

Paul Cushing joined Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) as an 18-year-old, serving at the Mounts station in Northampton for 20 years before joining Moulton’s Green Watch in 2006.

He decided to raise money for The Fire Fighters Charity by undertaking a sponsored bike ride in his breathing apparatus and full firefighting kit, which weighs around 20kg. He completed the ride last Friday, 21 July, and has so far raised more than £1,300.

He said: “I was going to do my route to work because I always cycle, rain or shine, but then I thought it would be nice to ride between Moulton and the Mounts.

“I chose the charity because they have really good rehabilitation centres for injured firefighters, those suffering serious illness, and their families. Touch wood I’ve never had reason to need their support but lots of people I’ve served with have and they’ve been absolutely brilliant. This felt like a good chance to give something back.

“I’d originally thought about doing the ride on a unicycle, but even just on my regular bike I knew I’d get a few funny looks riding along in all my kit! The support I’ve had has been great, the fire service is like a family and I’ve made some great close friends over the years.”

Paul was accompanied on his round-trip ride of approximately nine miles by son Reece, sister-in-law Esme and colleague Kev Hardwick, plus wife Joanne who drove a back-up vehicle in case of punctures. The group were waved off by Paul’s mum Linda, Laura Harden of The Fire Fighters Charity, and friends and colleagues from NFRS.

Other events to mark Paul’s retirement in September will include a charity rugby match between his team, Northampton Heathens RFC, and Mens Own FRC.

Mark Ainge, head of service delivery at NFRS, said: “I first met Cush 31 years ago in the yard at Moulton during our firefighter training. We joined the service just 10 weeks apart and have been friends ever since.

"He’s been an invaluable team member, providing specialist training and sharing his expertise with many other firefighters in Northamptonshire and I know I speak for many when I say he will be very much missed.”

People can sponsor Paul here.