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14 December 2016, 08:52
A grandfather-of-seven, a stunt rider and former supermarket assistant are just some of the 20 people switching careers to join the frontline in Cambridgeshire.
The firefighters will begin their operational careers across the county with Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) following an intensive 11-week training course.
During training the new recruits are put through their paces, learning how to deal with an array of emergency situations including fires, rescues from water and road traffic collisions.
Their training culminated on Thursday (Dec 8) with a demonstration and pass out parade at Cardiff Gate, where the course had been delivered in partnership with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service.
Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland said: "We are excited to welcome this cohort of new firefighters to CFRS to begin what is hopefully a great career with the fire service.
"There are many challenges that a firefighter in a modern fire and rescue service must face. As well as the physical challenges at operational incidents, they must also work closely and engage with communities to deliver lifesaving advice.
"The role of a firefighter has changed and this diverse group of people from different backgrounds and all walks of life shows just how wide the appeal is to become a firefighter and deliver the valuable work we do in the community.
"We wish this group of firefighters the best of luck and hope they enjoy helping us to make Cambridgeshire a safer place."
The new recruits will be working for their first year at the following fire stations:
Dogsthorpe Fire Station
Calum Coomes (25), of Deeping St James, was formerly a vehicle quality inspector and has been an on-call firefighter for six years at Market Deeping.
Peter Cram (25), of Huntingdon, used to work as a sales rep for a crisp company and enjoys walking, rock climbing and cycling.
Liam Siddons (28), of March, worked as a youth support worker and has been an on-call firefighter at March for four years.
Chelsey Bailey (23), of Oundle, won the Silver Axe Award, traditionally awarded to the student who has consistently displayed a continuing perseverance throughout the course to improve on their overall standard in all aspects and activities. Chelsey worked with horses as a freelance groom and horse rider and was also a special constable with Northamptonshire Police.
Christian Theobald (28), of Market Deeping, was formerly in the Royal Air Force police and attends the gym and enjoys travelling and motor biking in his spare time.
Stanground Fire Station
Sam Gartside (20), of Peterborough, was formerly a business support assistant at the fire and rescue service working at headquarters and responding to calls as an on-call firefighter at Huntingdon.
Richard Petch (46), of Gamlingay, was a full time mechanic and on-call firefighter at Gamlingay for 12 years.
Dan Thomas (40), of Bedford, joins the fire service having previously worked as a police officer and enjoys karate and fell-walking in his spare time.
Coco Chambers (28), of Witcham, used to work as a yard supervisor at an equine hospital in Newmarket and her hobbies are horse riding and netball.
Cambridge Fire Station
Chris Parker (26), of Huntingdon, becomes a wholetime firefighter after serving at Huntingdon as an on-call firefighter for more than four years. He was previously employed as a driver and enjoys running and football.
Claire Harrington, (29), of Stansted, used to be a fire control operator in Essex taking 999 emergency calls as well as responding to emergencies as an on-call firefighter in her hometown of Stansted Mountfitchet.
Danny Johnston (34), of Haverhill, was a fitness instructor and on-call firefighter in Haverhill and he enjoys spending time with his family, playing football and going to the gym.
Guy Austin (31), of Cottenham, used to work in security at Stansted Airport and as a support worker with vulnerable adults. Photography, walking and playing computer games are his favourite pastimes.
David Bainsfair (25), of Ely, was a personal trainer before joining the fire service and enjoys playing rugby.
Adam Layton (30), of Yaxley, served as a soldier in the Army and worked for the prison service. He also joined the on-call service at Yaxley earlier this year.
Jamie Bovington (30), of Yaxley, was a full time firefighter at an airport and has been on-call at Yaxley for seven years. His hobbies include playing five-a-side football and motorbike racing.
Ely Fire Station
Richard Gethin (20), of Linton, was a supermarket assistant and on-call firefighter at Linton Fire Station. He enjoys cycling, running and football.
Craig Fishpoole (30), of Sutton, was a carpenter and has been an on-call firefighter for eight years first at Cottenham and then Sutton fire stations.
St Neots Fire Station
Paul Davies (41), of St Neots, joins the fire service after spending more than 20 years in the Army and in his spare time enjoys playing the guitar and football.
Wisbech Fire Station
Matthew Johnson (26), of Stanground, used to be an RSPCA officer and enjoys kayaking and mountain biking.
Station Commander Matthew Murdoch, from CFRS's Training Centre, added: "These 20 new firefighters have been put through their paces in a challenging training course and it is a real achievement for them and our training staff that they got through the selection process and intensive course.
"I wish every individual in this group of firefighters all the very best in the career that lies ahead of them knowing CFRS and the talented staff we have here will support them to become truly great firefighters."