An autistic boy, who aims to visit every fire station in the UK and Ireland, was treated to an “amazing time” at Bexhill and Battle Fire Stations on Good Friday.
Eleven-year-old Andrew Impey, also known as Andrew Dane, was invited to check out the local stations by firefighter Martin Walker, of Bexhill Red Watch.
Mum Kirstine said one of the highlights was Andrew’s trip in the Ariel Ladder Platform, brought to Bexhill specially for the occasion by firefighters from Hastings.
She said: “He was watching over the rooftops of Bexhill, so he thought it was marvellous.
“We went upstairs and had tea and cake with the crew then we want to Battle where he was allowed to have a look at their rope rescue unit.
“He had an amazing time.”
The team at Bexhill also took Andrew though a mock exercise in the Incident Command Unit.
Firefighter Walker said: “We all had a thoroughly good time.”
He added: “He’s more than welcome to come in when he’s passing, but we did say we would meet each other again in Hull later in the year for the UK Rescue Championship.”
Andrew could be back in Sussex soon as ESFRS chief fire officer Dawn Whittaker has invited him to see the service’s new HQ in Lewes.
Andrew embarked on his quest to visit all the fire stations in the UK and Ireland in December 2014.
Kirstine says it has had an amazing impact on her son.
She said: “When he started, he would not leave my side and talk to people. He used a lot of sign language and grunting and relied on us to communicate for him.
“His confidence has grown a lot and his communication has come on so much over the last couple of years.
“With his autism he struggles to hold normal conversation, but because he understands what the fire service is about and they understand him, he can talk to them and feel like he’s one of the crew.”
Kirstine added: “When we were told he was autistic, we were told each autistic child has a key and if you can find that you can unlock them.
“We have been very lucky Andrew’s key was found early on and it was something we could deal with.”
Andrew also fundraises for the Fire Fighters Charity and has raised nearly £1,800 to date. To donate, visit www.oneladschallenge.com and click on ‘donate’.