Bognor Regis firefighters battle ‘relentless’ rain to complete 58 mile pier to pier challenge

Walking through the rainWalking through the rain
Walking through the rain
‘Relentless’ rain and 22 mile per hour winds did not stop a determined pair of firefighters from completing a 58 mile walk in support of St Barnabas House.

Jordan O’Hara, from East Preston, and Mollie Bennett, from Littlehampton, who both work at Bognor Regis fire station, walked from Bognor pier to Brighton pier and back while wearing their full firefighting kit and carrying breathing apparatus.

Jordan said it was ‘an amazing experience’, admitting the weather had made it ‘ten times harder’.

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But it was all worth it to find they had far exceeded their fundraising target, raising more than £3,000 for the hospice in memory of Jordan’s grandmother Pat Harris.

Jordan O'Hara (L) and Mollie Bennett (R) midway through their walkJordan O'Hara (L) and Mollie Bennett (R) midway through their walk
Jordan O'Hara (L) and Mollie Bennett (R) midway through their walk

The pair set off from Bognor pier at 10pm on Wednesday and walked through the night.

By the time they reached Brighton at just past 6am, they already had blisters on their feet and aching hips.

“It was one foot in front of the other. It was pure grit,” said Jordan.

But their journey was about to get harder.

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“As soon as we hit the i360 it started to rain and all the way back it was relentless. It was nuts. We were drenched,” said Jordan.

The downpour made their fire-proof jackets even heavier. “The weight of it was just unbelievable.”

Jordan said focusing on the cause helped them carry on.

“I was thinking of nana and why we were doing it I thought let’s keep pushing,” she said.

“When we got to the end it was phenomenal. We turned round the corner and saw the [fire station] truck there flashing its lights. The truck walked us in behind us.

“It was so emotional, I broke down.”

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The pair were so exhausted they could not even celebrate completing the challenge.

“The adrenaline kept us going. We were on such a high, we were buzzing. When we got to the end we just dropped,” said Jordan.

She thanked everyone who walked alongside them, dropped money into their charity buckets or tooted their car horns in support.

“The community spirit has just been amazing,” said Jordan.

Jordan was inspired to raise funds for the hospice in honour of the ‘incredible’ end of life care their gave her nana at home.

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She said: “Nana didn’t want to be in a hospital, and with the added pressure of the pandemic on visiting restrictions, I knew I had to get her home so that we could spend time together.

“St Barnabas made this possible.

“The Hospice at Home team were just incredible, and I will forever be in debt for their kindness and compassion, and the care they provided for my nana’s last three weeks with us at home.”

Jordan also received bereavement support after her nana died in July.

“My nana and I were very close,” said Jordan. “She brought me up but was also my best friend.

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“She was my everything and I was in a very bad place when she passed away in the summer.

“As well as the nurses being there to care for her, the bereavement team at St Barnabas have supported me through the hardest time of my life.

“I really can’t thank them enough.”