Newhaven fire fighters raise £12,500 for Troop Aid

Newhaven Fire Station cheque presentation'Greg Curl and Rickie Botwright with cheque with Phil Swallow, Tom Harvey and Mark Winton (all red watch)
Newhaven Fire Station cheque presentation'Greg Curl and Rickie Botwright with cheque with Phil Swallow, Tom Harvey and Mark Winton (all red watch)

An inter service boxing match organised by Newhaven Fire Fighters in aid of Troop Aid raised an incredible £12,500.

The exciting event saw contestants from the fire service, police and army compete against each other in the luxurious surroundings of the Brighton Metropole Hotel.

The firefighters decided to stage the match for Troop Aid after they heard how much the charity had helped former Corporal Ben Stoten, who lives in Newhaven and was injured in Afghanistan, losing both his legs.

Main organiser Greg Kurl, who has become best friends with Ben since meeting him last year, said: “The boxing was fantastic with some very tough and hard fought bouts.

“But the camaraderie and spirit of what the evening was about shone through at all times.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank local businesses which donated money to subsidise our costs, all the fighters that took part in the event for all their commitment and dedication and most of all the members of the public who donated so generously and attended on the night to wave their flags and support our troops.”

Fire fighters from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service took on a mixed team, made up of the British Army and Sussex Police, in the charity boxing match on Sunday May 18.

Each fight consisted of three one minute rounds.

Most fighters had never boxed before and spent the months leading up to the challenge with Nick and Matt Bell at Moulscombe Boxing Club getting into shape and learning enough to be able to fight on the night.

Guests at the match were given union jack flags on arrival and street entertainers from around Brighton performed in the ring.

Greg said before the boxing began, all the fighters made their way into the ring for a minute’s silence to honour fallen troops and the national anthem was played.

He described the atmosphere as “electric”.

The audience was then addressed by Ben, who lost both his legs a year ago after stepping on an improvised explosive device.

After the boxing there was an “outstanding” performance from the newly formed band based at Station 2 The Red Watch Rookies, who treated guests to an hour and a half long set, whilst the crowd danced the night away.

A disco allowed guests to keep on dancing until 2am.

When injured troops return to the United Kingdom from war zones they arrive back without their personal effects or clothing.

Troop Aid supplies the basic essentials in a ‘grab bag’ when service casualties return from overseas, such as clothing and toothpaste.

Ben said: “When you’re injured all your clothes are cut off you.

“All my belongings were in Afghanistan or England.

“You have got nothing so it’s nice to have some creature comforts.”

Greg said Ben had told him about how much Troop Aid had helped him after he was injured in Afghanistan and wanted to do something to support the charity.

Items in the grab bag given to injured soldiers include a t-shirt, shorts, washing and shaving kit, towel, face flannel, toothpaste, toothbrush, shower mules, socks, underwear, pen and paper. It also makes grab bags for injured female service personnel.

The charity supplies items of clothing and footwear such as tracksuits, hoodies, fleeces and trainers to injured service personnel on demand.

Grab bags are sent to the Field Hospital in Afghanistan, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham plus Ministry of Defence Hospital Units.