Spirit of fire 2015 winners Tyne Wear 180The efforts of firefighters from both Tyne and Wear and Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Services to raise cash in memory of a friend and colleague who died from cancer have been recognised by a national charity.

Firefighters from the two Services set up the gruelling StrongArm Challenge in memory of former Tyne and Wear firefighter Peter Metcalfe, who died in 2012 aged 35.

The first StrongArm took place in Scotland in 2013 and last year the original team, along with several new faces, returned for a new challenge in the Lake District. On consecutive days they swam eight miles in Ullswater, completed a mountain triathlon and took part in the Total Warrior 10-mile assault course, carrying a paraplegic team member, before cycling 100 miles home.

So far they have raised about £60,000 for The Fire Fighters Charity and the Make a Wish Foundation, and those efforts have now been recognised by being crowned Team of the Year at the annual ‘Spirit of Fire’ Awards in London.

Watch Manager Paul Thompson from TWFRS said: “When our colleague and dear friend Peter Metcalfe tragically lost his life suddenly to stomach cancer, we wanted to create a very special event to keep his spirit alive and raise funds in his memory.

"Thanks to all the organisational work by people like Carl Stephenson and Peter's brother, Warren, it has been a bigger success than we could have wished for. And winning the Spirit of Fire award is a great honour for everyone involved."

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Warren Metcalfe has taken part in and helped to organise the challenge events, and is a firefighter with County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service.

He added: “I would like to thank everyone who trained so hard and pushed themselves to the limit to raise funds for two worthy causes in memory of Peter. Our support team was fantastic and we couldn’t have completed the challenge or received this award without them.”

The Spirit of Fire Awards honour members of the fire and rescue community and members of the public by recognising acts of astonishing courage and bravery, as well as dedication to The Fire Fighters Charity.

Preceded by a Downing Street reception for nominees, hosted by Greg Clark MP, the high profile event took place at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel and was attended by a host of celebrities and VIP guests from across the fire and rescue service.

Commenting on the achievements recognised at The Spirit of Fire 2015 including those of StrongArm, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government said: “I’ve been inspired by the accounts of self-sacrifice and dedication that the winners and nominees of this year’s Spirit of Fire awards have shown, both at individual incidents and in their support for the Fire Fighters Charity.

"This charity provides world-class support and treatment for serving and retired firefighters, as well as their families, and it is in recognition of this that we continue to support its work. I would like to congratulate all those involved in the awards, and to thank them for all their hard work and commitment."

Celebrate the best of FRS partnership working by booking your ticket to the Excellence in Fire and Emergency Awards 2015 at One Great George Street on 4 December: www.fire-magazine.com/fire-event/efe-awards-2015/