Two firefighters from Shoreham are walking more than 100 miles along the South Downs Way while wearing full fire kit and breathing apparatus to support two charities.

Shaun Challis and Lee Smith are raising money for Martlets Hospice and The Fire Fighters Charity.

They will begin their trek on Tuesday morning from just outside Winchester and are aiming to arrive into Eastbourne on Saturday.

On Wednesday evening they will be bedding down at Arundel Fire Station, while on Thursday members of their own crews at Shoreham Fire Station will play host to them.

Shoreham firefightersShaun said that both he and Lee were looking forward to beginning their challenge.

He said: “We were looking for something a bit different to do, these days just running a marathon doesn’t really cut it when you’re trying to fundraise! So we thought we would step it up a bit and attempt the whole South Downs Way while wearing full fire kit and breathing apparatus, which is about two-and-a-half-stones worth of equipment.

“I actually ran a marathon earlier in the summer while wearing fire kit, and the heat was a real issue, which is why we have chosen to do this in December. The weather may still be against us, especially if it rains, but we are keeping our fingers crossed.”

The pair were inspired to take on the fundraising expedition having both lost someone close to them to cancer recently, and experienced the fantastic work that Martlets carry out first hand.

Shaun added: “That has been the real drive behind this, we wanted to give something back because they provide such a great service. For me, I lost a really good friend to cancer. He was only 38 and it was all very sudden and took everyone by surprise. But in such a horrible situation, Martlets offered so much support to everyone, and I just wanted to say thank you for that.

“Equally, The Fire Fighters Charity has proven to be a real lifeline to a great number of firefighters, myself and Lee included, over the years. They provide a vital service to emergency service workers, and it’s important their work is able to continue.”

Lee Walton, Central Group Commander, said: “There are not many people who would put themselves forward to take on the weather in December out on the South Downs Way, let alone while wearing full fire kit and breathing apparatus. All of us at West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service wish them both the very best of luck, we know they are going to do us all proud.”

You can follow their progress on twitter by following @WestSussexFire. To make a donation towards their fundraising efforts visit: