Firefighters ‘smash’ target in fundraiser for former colleague


Over £5,000 raised for stroke rehabilitation equipment – subhead


CREW members from Newtownards Fire Station have come together to fundraise in support of their former Watch Commander Alan Blair who has been receiving rehabilitation care at the Ulster Hospital’s stroke ward.

A familiar face to many in the Ards community and a firefighter since 1986, Alan, who retired from the Fire Service in 2021, suffered a stroke on April 30, and as a result was left with a weakness to the right side of his face, arm and leg.

As part of his recovery process, Alan required a specialist ‘recumbent’, stationary bike which would help repair the strength lost in his right side. The team from Newtownards Fire Station established a Just Giving page to raise enough money to purchase the bike and stroke ‘glove’ and ‘cube’ kits.

Newtownards Fire Service crew commander Phil Clint said thanks to the fraternity of firefighters and the generosity of the public, their goal of fundraising £3,000 has been ‘smashed’ as over £5,000 has been raised to purchase the rehabilitation equipment.

Phil added: “We received lots of donations from other fire stations in the district and we smashed our initial goal in just two weeks.

“Alan is so well known throughout the Fire Service as well as for his fundraising work too. The amount raised is a testament to Alan’s reputation. The service has really banded together. Alan has done so much for the community and for the Fire Service.”

Alan’s son Ben said the family ‘are so grateful’ to the physiotherapy and speech and language team as his dad prepared to be discharged from hospital.

“The team here, the whole ward has been brilliant for dad. It’s great to see the bike and equipment here and it’s good that dad is leaving a bit of legacy behind with it,” said Ben.

Ulster Hospital physiotherapist Jayne McKeown said: “We are delighted by this donation as it will help so many people on their rehab journey both from a cardiovascular point of view and help prime recovery for stroke patients.

“We just want to say a huge thanks for the bike and equipment. It is really fantastic.”



Cap for alan blair

Alan Blair tries out the new specialist ‘recumbent’ bike donated to the Ulster Hospital’s Stroke Ward