A Cricklade firefighter who saw his business literally go up in smoke two years ago has recently completed a parachute jump in aid of the charity that helped him get back on his feet.
Pete Price, a retained crew manager with Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service at Cricklade fire station, has raised some £1,800 for the Fire Fighters Charity by completing the freefall jump above South Cerney last month.
In January 2008, he and work colleague Jason Smith – who is also a Cricklade firefighter – saw their car workshop destroyed by fire. The Fire Fighters Charity gave both men financial assistance immediately after the blaze, helping them to keep their heads above water until they could start work again.
Pete said: "The irony was that we’d both been working on a customer’s car when our pagers went off, mobilising us to stand-by at Swindon fire station as crews there had been called out. On the way back, we could see thick black smoke coming from the area near our workshop and then we were actually sent there. It was sheer bad luck, we’d switched off the gas but the tools were still hot."
He added: "We were back in business within two weeks, thanks to some incredibly generous help from local people and businesses, our suppliers and the Fire Fighters Charity. Cricklade fire station has always supported the fund, but it has taken on a new meaning since Jason and I received this support. Our fellow firefighters at Cricklade, Swindon, Westlea and Stratton were also incredibly encouraging, which gave us the drive to knuckle down and rebuild the business. We are so grateful to everyone who donated tools, equipment, time and money – it meant the world to us."
The jump was held at the Silver Stars Dropzone in South Cerney, home of the Royal Logistics Corps’ parachute training centre. Pete had never been anywhere near a parachute before this, and his first attempt to make the jump was aborted when the plane developed a fault. This was after several months of waiting, as potential dates were lost to inclement weather.
Once he took the plunge, however, there was no looking back. He said: "Waiting to leave the plane was the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever done, but once I was out, it was absolutely amazing. The adrenaline kicks in, and you can’t believe how quiet it is. It was a truly fantastic experience, and I’m so grateful to everyone who sponsored me and helped me to raise such a good amount for the Fire Fighters Charity."