Gazette joins Castleton residents in walking over river of fire

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Imagine walking across a river of hot coals, burning at over 1,000°C.

That was the challenge facing the Gazette’s Nicole Plant and Karl Hansell at Castleton’s Downe Arms last Wednesday.

Karl Hansell and Nicole Plant completing a fire walk at the Downe Arms in Castleton''w134611d

Karl Hansell and Nicole Plant completing a fire walk at the Downe Arms in Castleton''w134611d

Joined by the pub’s landlord Yvonne Ferguson, as well as around 20 other Castleton residents, including a rally driver and a firefighter (who really should have known better), the event was organised to raise funds for the cancer charity Little Heroes.

Yvonne said the idea of hosting the firewalk came around as they wanted to host a Bonfire Night event that wouldn’t see the money go “up in smoke”.

Instead of setting of fireworks, her husband John came up with the idea of hosting the firewalk. However, illness prevented him from taking part and the task instead fell to his wife Yvonne.

She said: “It didn’t worry me at first but as the day got closer, every time I saw a fire burning I thought ‘dear me I’m going to have to walk across that’.”

Karl Hansell and Nicole Plant completing a fire walk at the Downe Arms in Castleton''w134611a

Karl Hansell and Nicole Plant completing a fire walk at the Downe Arms in Castleton''w134611a

Around £3,068 has been raised for the charity, with more money still being collected.

The task of convincing participants that they would not get seriously hurt fell to Sue Pullan, who has herself completed 65 firewalks.

“This is a real fire,” she said. “It’s one of the most common natural fears we have. But it is not a fear we are born with. It’s a fear we are taught by our parents when we are young.”

The Little Heroes charity was started in 2008 by Colin Nesbitt. His grandson Reece was diagnosed with cancer and Mr Nesbitt decided launch the charity to help children undergoing therapy.

With 10,000 children undergoing treatment for cancer in the UK at any time, the money raised by the firewalks helps provide facilities for the youngsters and their families to have a respite holiday.

The idea for firewalking began when Reece developed blisters all over his body during the chemotherapy treatment. If Reece could endure those severe blisters, the risk of a few on his feet caused by a firewalk was a small price to pay.

Yvonne added: “To think what those little kids are going through. So I was really proud of my sponsors and really proud of myself for actually going through with it.”

The 4,000-year-old practice of firewalking first emerged in Iron Age India.

In 14th Century Seville, girls who had been studying at the cathedral were required to walk across a 40ft fire pit to prove their purity.

The technique, explained Sue, was to just walk as normal, but at a slightly faster pace - no arguments here.

“There are only risks if you are doing it wrong,” Sue added.

Gazette sales consultant Nicole Plant said: “Me being me I agreed to participate in the fire walking event without actually knowing what it involved.

“Once I was talked through how the process worked and what I was to do, I was ready to go and I had great fun, although I was surprised at what a wimp Karl was considering it didn’t hurt at all, contrary to what people might think. I would definitely do it again.”

If you would like to donate money to Little Heroes, there is still time. Call Yvonne at the Downe Arms on (01287) 660223.