‘I’ve gained some great skills’ Young volunteer praises TWFRS programme

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Conner Weatherburn participated in the TWFRS Prince’s Trust Team programme.

A young volunteer for the Tyne and Wear Fire Rescue Service (TWFRS) has praised the service for their support in helping him to try new things after a medical setback.

23-year-old Conner Weatherburn, from Simonside had dreamed of becoming a firefighter with TWFRS from a young age. He left school after completing his GCSEs and became a painter while waiting for an opportunity to work for the service.

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However, Conner was diagnosed with a sudden bleed on the brain at the age of 17, leaving him with impaired vision.

Conner’s medical condition meant that he was unable to apply to become a firefighter, and spent the last six years unsure of what he could do in terms of a future career.

Conner decided to volunteer at Action Aid in South Tyneside, and there he was recommended to join the Prince’s Trust Team Programme.

While apprehensive at first, Conner now says that the course, which lasted 12 weeks at South Shields Community Fire Station changed his life.

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Conner said:  “I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do anything on the course, the bleed on my brain affected my vision so I wasn’t sure if this was going to be the right thing for me.

“But right away we were expected to work together with people we’d only met days before and it was really great because everyone threw themselves into it.

“I was a few years older than some of the people on my course but everybody just got on so well. It was great to be around other young people who wanted to give back to their community.

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“I think the best thing about the course was the amount of variety within the 12-weeks, no two days were the same and I did things I never thought I could do.

“I’ve gained some great skills and met some fantastic people on the course who have really helped me and provided advice to help me get to the next step in my career.

“Right now I know I am ready to do something a bit different and I know that I can thanks to the Prince’s Trust team.”

Collette Cutler, Diversionary Activities Team Leader for TWFRS’s Prince’s Trust Team Programme in South Shields, has praised Conner’s commitment and encouraged others to follow in his footsteps this September.

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Collette said “I’m really proud of Conner and all the hard work he put into the course as I know how hard he thought it would be at the start.

“He is a great personality and I know that his future is bright even though there were times when he didn’t feel like that himself.

“I know people often think there is nothing out there for them or that there is no point getting involved in something like the Prince’s Trust but it really does change people’s lives.

Tyne and Wear Fire Rescue ServiceTyne and Wear Fire Rescue Service
Tyne and Wear Fire Rescue Service | Tyne and Wear Fire Rescue Service

“We work hard to give young people confidence and make them believe in themselves and their skills to help them find what they are passionate about and how to make it into a career.”

The next Prince’s Trust Team programme begins on Monday, September 18 in South Shields, Washington and Farringdon. To find out more information, please visit the TWFRS website.

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