Fireman set to do Great North Run dressed in full fire kit in memory of officers killed in 9/11 attacks

Grace House Business Development Manager, Jane Lertas-Robinson meet's Simon Johnson to discuss his GNR challenge, whilst fellow fire fighters show their support. Picture by Rebecca Ashby.
Grace House Business Development Manager, Jane Lertas-Robinson meet's Simon Johnson to discuss his GNR challenge, whilst fellow fire fighters show their support. Picture by Rebecca Ashby.

Not happy with just feeling the heat from his day job, firefighter and keen runner Simon Johnson will be sweating it out as he takes on this year’s Great North Run in his full uniform.

Simon, 39 from Cleadon Village, recently approached Sunderland respite centre Grace House to take one of their charity places for the world’s biggest half marathon.

“I am very grateful for the sponsorship I have received so far and really hope I can raise more for this great cause.”

Simon Johnson

Motivated by this year’s GNR falling on September 11, which marks the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks in the U.S, Simon wanted show his respect to the firefighters who sadly lost their lives, whilst supporting and raising money for Grace House.

Simon, who is based at Sunderland Central Station, said: “At least once a year I try to do something for charity.

“After reading about the fantastic work they do at Grace House and the Great North Run falling on September 11, this just felt like a good idea.

“I’ve done the Great North Run a few times now, normally completing it in around one hour 18 mins, so for this – running in full fire fighting kit - I’ve set myself the challenge to finish in under two hours.

“I am very grateful for the sponsorship I have received so far and really hope I can raise more for this great cause.”

Jane Lertas-Robinson, business development manager at Grace House North East, said: “It’s great to see members of the public supporting Grace House in such challenging and unique ways.

“We have been inspired by Simon’s story and the goal he has set himself in order to raise funds for the charity.

“We look forward to giving him, and all the other people taking part on behalf of Grace House, a warm welcome at our hospitably tent at the end of the race.”

Grace House, which is based in Southwick, Sunderland, offers short-break care to severely disabled children aged five to 18.

Run in partnership with Sunderland Care and Support, the centre provides a home from home where children and young people can come and stay overnight and enjoy the exciting ‘sleep-over’ experience that many disabled children miss out on.

This gives family members an opportunity to have a rest and recharge their batteries, safe in the knowledge that their disabled child is safe, happy and well looked after.

Simon will be completing the gruelling 13.1 miles in his full fire kit which consists of leggings, a tunic and a helmet, weighing in at 15lbs. If you would like to support Simon with his fundraising, visit his JustGiving page www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Simon-Johnson4030.