Newly-qualified on-call firefighter takes on the UK’s ‘ultimate team endurance challenge.’

A newly-qualified on-call firefighter is taking on her first fundraising challenge by competing in the UK’s ‘ultimate team endurance challenge.’

Caroline Dixon, 33, who is based at Sawtry Fire Station, qualified as an on-call firefighter with Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service in March and is also training as a Firefighter (Control) taking emergency calls in the Service’s combined fire control, based at headquarters in Huntingdon.

Firefighters within the Service do a huge amount of fundraising outside of work and each year raise thousands of pounds for charity, the main one being The Fire Fighters Charity.

Caroline is taking on her first fundraising challenge – Trailwalker 2017 which is described as the UK’s ‘ultimate team endurance challenge’ and involves a 100km trek across the South Downs Way in less than 30 hours.

The trek, which has to be completed as a team of four people, was originally devised by The Queen’s Gurkha Signals as a military exercise, and includes an ascent equivalent to Snowdon and Ben Nevis.

Caroline, who is walking with her husband Paul and her niece and her friend, decided to take the challenge on after taking part in the event previously as part of the support crew manning checkpoints.

Caroline said: “I love a challenge and having been support crew before I have always wanted to complete this one.

“It’s quite deceiving. You can be at a point where you can see a checkpoint and you think it’s only 15 minutes away but you do it and it is an hour-and-a-half away.”

The Gurkhas, who are renowned for their endurance, are an important part of the event, having set the original course as a military exercise. Competitors meet on Friday night and camp out before the start of the trek on Saturday morning (July 29).

Caroline added: “Everyone is there on Friday night camping and the Gurkhas perform a knife display for everyone then on Saturday morning they hide up in the hills so you can’t see them and play the bagpipes as a send-off which is chilling.”

Competitors have to compete as a team of four and finish as a complete team within 30 hours of setting off. At the end of it, the Gurkhas also lay on a curry for everyone.

“When I was part of the support crew I didn’t feel like I had earnt my curry but this time I will have because I will have the blisters to prove it,” said Caroline.

Caroline, who has a nine-year-old daughter called Mischa and a three-year-old son, Jaikob, added: “I’m loving my time in the Service so far. I have met some fantastic people and am learning some great new skills. It’s exciting not knowing what’s coming next.”

Trailwalker 2017 raises money for Oxfam and The Gurkha Welfare Trust. To sponsor Caroline, go to: http://bit.ly/2vFe7jx

On-call firefighters are trained professionals who respond to emergencies in their communities alongside their day-to-day lives. To find out more about becoming an on-call firefighter in Cambridgeshire, search "Cambs on-call".