Worcester retired firefighter and Army veteran to trek WW2 Pyrenees Freedom Trail for Fire Fighters Charity

Dave Smith training for Pyrenees trek

Worcester retired firefighter and Army veteran Dave Smith will be taking on the rugged WW2 Discover Adventure Pyrenees Freedom Trail Challenge next month, to raise funds for the Fire Fighters Charity (FFC).

Also known as the ‘Chemin de la Liberté’, the trail traces an infamous Second World War escape route from Nazi-occupied France into Spain.

The six-day arduous trek reaches up to 2,500 metres high.

It starts at Saint-Girons in France, with journey’s end at Vielha on the Spanish Border, overnighting in mountain cabins.

Dave, 66, currently the HWFRS Fire Fighters Charity Living Well Coordinator and a retired fire service watch manager, served 30 years in a variety of roles, finally hanging up his uniform in 2008.

His last 12 years were spent with Training and Development based at Droitwich and the Service HQ at Hindlip Hall, near Worcester.

Firefighting service followed a six-year career in the Royal Engineers, which took Dave to a variety of variety of postings around the world including duty with the British Army of the Rhine in Germany, driving some of the Army’s biggest vehicles.

Dave, who with his ex-Forces wife Wendy has three children – two of whom followed him into the Army – has notched up twelve international treks for charity, including a number of national events including the 3 Peaks and Yorkshire 3 Peaks, not to mention a ‘999 Challenge‘- staying in a Debenhams window for 9 days 9 hours & 9 minutes!

Also under Dave’s belt are ladder climbs including a world record, and fundraising treks all over the world, as well as taking part in the 9/11 Boston to New York Cycle Challenge in 2005, ending in New York on 9/11.

Dave, pictured in his firefighters uniform and on a training trek with his dog Maggie, said:

While in the fire service and since retirement, I’ve taken on a variety of fundraising roles for the Fire Fighters Charity as well my current role as the HWFRS FFC Living Well Coordinator.

“Over the 42 years, I’ve raised some £500,000, a tribute to people’s amazing generosity.

“£165,000 of this was raised when I coordinated a 9/11 fundraising event in aid of the widows and orphans of the 343 US firefighters who paid the ultimate price in the Twin Tower attacks in 2001.

“Having now clocked up 42 years as a volunteer fundraiser for the charity, and at 66 years old, I’m poised to embark on my final trek in aid of our charity!

“This September, I and fellow trekkers are proud to be following in the footsteps of WW2 Allied POW escapees and Jewish refugees making a bid for freedom, both those who got through and the brave heroes who weren’t successful.

“All funds raised by me during my Pyrenees Freedom Trail trek will find their way to the FFC, with me paying all my own costs.

“Even though I’ll be putting my trekking boots on the mantlepiece, I’ll still be raising money for the FFC!”

Dave, from St Johns in Worcester, sets off on 6 September and you can find out more about the expedition at Dave’s JustGiving page: David Smith is fundraising for The Fire Fighters Charity (justgiving.com), where donations are welcome.