Firefighter climbs tower 26 times in full kit to raise money for cancer charity

PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 May 2020

Firefighter John Ford during his climb. Picture: Macmillan

Firefighter John Ford during his climb. Picture: Macmillan


A firefighter has climbed higher than the equivalent of the Empire State Building to raise money for a cancer charity.

John Ford, from Hornchurch, took on the gruelling task of climbing Barking fire station’s 20-metre-high drill tower 26 times – while wearing 25kg of firefighter kit.

And the 42-year-old was able to complete the challenge, which was in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, in just 22 minutes.

John, who has been a member of the London Fire Brigade for 17 years, said: “I decided to do this challenge as it’s one of 
the toughest training exercises we do.

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“It’s four floors of our drill tower, which is approximately 20 metres high, and on the day it was especially tough because it was so warm and our personal protection equipment is quite heavy. I’m on the front line in my day job, but I wanted to do something to give something back to Macmillan, as we all know someone affected by cancer, and charities like this will obviously be affected by 
the pandemic. Hopefully this will help inspire others to 
think of new ways to raise money too.”

John took on the climb as part of the 2.6 Challenge initiative, where – inspired by the London Marathon distance – fundraisers are encouraged to come up with an activity based on the numbers 26 or 2.6. He completed the challenge as part of a team effort by Upminster Vets Football Club, whose players took part in various 2.6 challenges and have so far collectively raised over £2,000.

On the football team’s effort, he said: “We decided to do individual challenges as a group, motivating and inspiring each other.

“Our manager has had cancer and received support from Macmillan. I personally have been affected too – my brother-in-law passed away in November 2018, and I have known close family and friends who either passed away or are in remission following a cancer diagnosis.”

Other challenges completed by his team-mates included garden marathons, cycling 26km and a 26,000-step stair climb.

To sponsor John, visit To donate or find out more about Macmillan Cancer Support visit or call 0300 1000 200.

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