Firefighters back on course for transatlantic challenge raising awareness for mental health

After a rough couple of years, Southampton firefighters Adam Bundle and Stu Vince are back in gear for the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge in December.

The duo teamed up in 2019 to raise £50,000 for local charity Solent Mind and The Fire Fighters Charity, having launched their campaign to raise awareness of mental health.

They planned to cross the Atlantic in December 2020, but had to postpone their challenge due to a back injury suffered by Stu.

Stu, Station Manager at Redbridge, said:

“The day we made the decision to retire was one of the darkest of my life. I sat in the Solent at one in the morning in excruciating pain looking at Adam and knowing the decision we had to make.

“It’s weird how life goes sometimes, if we had moved on I would have missed the birth of my beautiful twin daughters and Adam wouldn’t have been able to provide for his family during some really tough times.

“Now we are more determined, more focused and increasingly better prepared.

“The continued support we’ve had has been incredible and I can’t thank everyone enough. I also want to thank Adam for not leaving without me!”

St Mary’s Watch manager Adam said:

“Personally, I really struggled with the postponement of the 2020 race. We had lived and breathed for two years and my mental health took a bit of a dip.

“I used my mental health training to work through disappointment and focused on my family, health, and work as a positive coping strategy.

“My mother-in-law fell ill on Christmas Day 2020, contracting Covid-19 while in hospital and spending 99 days in an Intensive Care Unit. Since then, she has made an amazing recovery, but if we hadn’t postponed our career, she would have been in the middle of the Atlantic, unable to support my family. I guess everything happens for a reason.

“I volunteered to work on an emergency project during the height of the pandemic, overseeing the deployment and well-being of firefighters who help ICUs across the county place patients on ventilators.”

After battling injuries, serious family illnesses, personal stress, and working on the front lines during the Covid-19 pandemic, firefighters are back on the water preparing for their 3,000-mile line.

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This time they are joined by Craig Sadler, duty manager at Portsmouth’s Cosham Fire Station, who acts as a backup rower and supporter of the campaign and cause.

Along with Adam and Stu, Craig is also trained as a Mental Health Responder within HIWFRS and is familiar with epic challenges having traveled to Everest Base Camp with a team of firefighters in 2019.

Craig said:

“In August, Adam and Stu described their challenge and shared their disappointment at the postponement of the race, before offering me the opportunity to be the first reserve in case neither of them could complete the queue. I didn’t hesitate to say ‘yes’.

“I feel honored and privileged that Adam and Stu believe I have what it takes to step into their shoes if need be. I am always up for a challenge and enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone. I really think that’s when you find out who you really are.

“I am made to be part of the team and I will give it my all.

“Both charities are close to my heart and do a phenomenal job of helping and supporting so many people.”

Adam, Stu and Craig have completed rigorous sea survival training courses in preparation for the gargantuan challenge and continue to sail their boat, aptly named Patience.

Working alongside Southampton Solent University students and staff to ensure they are in peak physical condition, the team is also running Mental Health First Aid courses, training staff and raising mental health awareness on-site. of work.

You can learn more about the challenge and its campaign on its website or follow his updates on social networks:

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  • Twitter – @mindsmatterarc
  • Instagram – MindsMatterarc
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