Firefighters get the chance to meet some amazing people…
An autistic schoolboy who is undertaking a mammoth fundraising challenge has been honoured with a prestigious Diana Award.
Andrew Impey, aged 11, has made it onto the roll of honour for his quest to visit every fire station in the UK to raise money for The Fire Fighters Charity.
The Diana Award was set up in memory of the Princess of Wales to mark incredible achievements made by inspirational youngsters.
The schoolboy from Southsea, Portsmouth started his amazing journey with the stations of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service – he has now clocked up more than 1,000 across the country.
Andrew said: “I think of Hampshire firefighters as my friends. I think they are really good role models.”
Kirstine Impey, Andrew’s mum, said: “The fire station visits have made a massive difference to Andrew, especially with his social skills and community spirit.
“This award is recognition of what I’ve got to see first hand; that Andrew has made a real difference to the fire service community across the country, as well as to himself.”
Through Andrew’s travels in Hampshire he has been nominated for a number of awards and now been offered to chance to visit Fire Department City of New York (FDNY) and has plans to see stations in Europe.
Andrew also attends emergency services shows and expos and has picked up hundreds of trinkets and bits of kit from his visits and exhibitions.
The fire service fan has transformed his room into a fire station with more than 30 helmets, piles of tunics, a control room map of London, a mini breathing apparatus set and even a firefighters’ pole.
Last year he invited the entire service to his birthday party and several crews attended along with Assistant Chief Officer Andy Bowers.
ACO Bowers also joined Andrew on a sponsored cycle ride between fire stations to collect money for The Fire Fighters Charity and raise awareness of autism.
Andrew recently put HFRS forward for an award for the support they have given him which he presented to Chief Officer Dave Curry and Deputy Chief Officer Neil Odin.
CFO Curry said: “It is great to see Andrew’s achievements and dedication recognised with such a prestigious award.
“He is very much a member of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service family and we look forward to congratulating him in person on his next visit.
“His fundraising efforts are remarkable as is his passion for the work we do. We are extremely proud we got to be there at the start of his special journey.”
Since his first visit Andrew has been to every fire station in the county and numerous different departments – in many cases several times.
He has so far raised about £2,000 and has documented his journey online and on social media under the tag One Lads Challenge.
The Fire Fighters Charity Chief Executive Jill Tolfrey said: “We’re incredibly proud of all that Andrew has done for us throughout his incredible challenge.
“He is an inspirational young man, with a fantastically supportive family, who has captured the hearts of those he has met at every station and headquarters he has visited.”
He will receive the gong later this year with 750 individuals and groups from across the world.