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Shropshire Fire and Rescue's Area Manager praises firefighter Sally Barnett for completing marathon 52 week challenge

Published on 17 September 2014
Area Manager Andy Johnson is Shropshire Fire and Rescue's
Shropshire firefighter Sally raised £2,200 for the charity which got her back on her feet after breaking her back in a horseriding accident

A firefighter who feared she would never walk again after breaking her back in an accident has raised £2,200 for the charity which got her back on her feet.

Sally Barnett (42) also did it in style with a sponsored weekly walk up The Wrekin, a Shropshire landmark rising to 1,335ft, for a whole year including Christmas Day and New Year's Eve, wearing full firefighting kit and carrying a breathing apparatus cylinder weighing 17.5kg for a total distance of 85,280ft.

She was praised for her "grit and determination" to complete the marathon 52 week challenge by Area Manager Andy Johnson, who is Shropshire Fire and Rescue's " brigade champion" for the Firefighters Charity which helps rehabilitate injured firefighters.

"I am blown away by the grit and determination that Sally has shown throughout the challenge that she set herself over a year ago. To climb the Wrekin, wearing full fire kit and a breathing apparatus set, having come back from her injuries, is in itself remarkable.

"To have done this week in, week out, for 52 weeks, no matter what the weather and to then top it off by climbing Snowden is absolutely outstanding and serves as a shining example to us all as to what can be done if we put our mind to something."

Sally, a crew manager in Shrewsbury fire HQ's fire control, is also an on call firefighter and the first woman to join Market Drayton fire station. She was motivated to put something back into the charity that helped her get back to full fitness.

The £2,200 she has raised will go towards making a similar difference to other firefighters and their families.

While carrying out the marathon challenge, Sally was in training to become an operational firefighter at her local station.

It was June 28 last year when she decided to take on the challenge to raise money for the charity which helped fund her treatment when she broke her back in a horse-riding accident seven years ago after a fall from a friend's horse in a Bridgnorth field.

"A year ago it seemed like a huge challenge and the end result was such a long way away. I have met lots of lovely people on my walks. I even had photos with the Irish Regiment who were up there on exercise one day," said Sally.

Many walkers have made donations on the way and others have been inspired to climb The Wrekin for the first time after hearing about Sally's challenge.

Sally was spurred on with the support of partner Keith Burgess and colleague Neil Penny who joined her for many of the trips along with other friends.

"On the days when I felt it was hard, they gave me the motivation to keep pushing."

Sally recorded a personal best of 29mns and 43 secs and even made a few sprint finishes after her early journeys took 50 minutes with three or four stops for a rest.

"I firmly believe I would not be where I am today in terms of fitness without the help of The Firefighters Charity and their fantastic staff at the therapy centre I attended.

"To recover from such a life changing injury to the point where I have now achieved my dream of becoming an operational firefighter is the most satisfying feeling when others doubted I could actually do it.

"I owe them a lot and it is my pleasure to give something back in the fund raising that I do."

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