Alf Jackson, 83 from Warrington, Cheshire, is a real 'character' and retired Fire fighter who despite living with severe Arthritis, has regained his freedom thanks to a 'fire engine' TGA Breeze mobility scooter that was partly funded by The Fire Fighters Charity.
Alf has lived in the same area all his life and was originally born in Warrington. He now lives with his wife Pat and two rescue dogs Lady and Sammy who are walked by local helpers, as Alf requires the use of crutches to move around. In 1948 he began his two years of National Service in the army and excelled at sports such as rugby and running. Alf became a qualified gym instructor, went onto play amateur Rugby League for Latchford Albion and played against Wigan in the main cup competition. Leaving the Army, Alf struggled with a subsequent job, as he wanted more of a challenge, hence he joined the Fire Brigade in 1957. During a career that spanned nearly 30 years, Alf began by successfully completing his four-month basic training and following several years on 'watch', he then started to take his Fire fighter exams. He became a Leading Fireman in the early 1960's, Sub Officer in 1964 and was awarded the responsibility of Station Officer in 1968. Alf was then finally promoted to Residential Fire Officer in 1978. This rise through the ranks continued alongside his sporting achievements as Alf set up the Fire fighter's Volleyball League and achieved official coaching status. Being able to stay fit and agile was critical for Alf when bravely tackling fires, however in the last few years his mobility has become restricted now resulting in limited freedom outside of the home.
Alf explains: 'I have spent most of my life involved in front line action combatting fires or on the sports pitch. So when your mobility starts to become restricted, it can be very difficult to accept. Nevertheless thanks to TGA Mobility and a donation from the Fire Fighters Charity, I am now able to access the outdoors with ease on my Breeze GT. It's great to be on the move again and I have added a selection of fire engine accessories to my scooter to make it feel more familiar. With my horn, warning stickers, blue light and helmet on display, I am ready for duty once more in my local area but this time it's for shopping, caring for my wife and visiting friends!'
Alf continues: 'The idea to own a mobility scooter came to me when I was last at one of the Fire Fighters Charity's rehabilitation centres in Cumbria receiving physiotherapy and treatment. The team at Jubilee House in Penrith does such a fantastic job looking after me and fellow fire fighters injured in the line of duty. Whilst enjoying a weeks respite care from looking after my wife who has Dementia, I was lucky enough to use a mobility scooter to drive around the grounds. This got me thinking and I first saw this fantastic TGA Breeze in a TV weekly magazine. With its wider rear wheels for extra performance, 8mph top speed and orthopedic seat - I knew this was the one for me. I asked the Charity whether there was any possibility of a donation to help me get mobile again and they kindly obliged. Well, what a difference it has made and I may even be able to walk my dogs again without the assistance of helpers. My TGA Breeze also has an all weather hard canopy so I remain dry and comfortable whenever on call outside! I would like to thank the Fire Fighters Charity so much for all what they have done for me and to ask everyone who can, to donate to this organisation as it makes such a difference to the lives of serving, injured and retired fire fighters.'
The Fire Fighters Charity is the UK's leading provider of services that enhance quality of life for serving and retired fire fighters, fire personnel and their families. Over the years, it has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals by providing world-class treatment and support services. It has three centres based in Devon, Cumbria and West Sussex, which offer a range of support programmes including physical rehabilitation and recuperation to members of the fire and rescue community.
Daniel Stone, TGA Managing Director concludes: 'Alf fully deserves to regain his freedom when you consider his contribution to society. His grit and determination both during his career and now coping with mobility and health issues at home has to be admired. The TGA Breeze GT model chosen by Alf is the same scooter that won the BBC Top Gear extreme challenge last year so will deliver all the power, performance, comfort and safety he will need on a daily basis. The Fire Fighters Charity delivers remarkable levels of support to our valued fire fighters and Alf's story clearly illustrates the importance of donations to this organisation.'