District’s firies raise more than $14k

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TOP OF THE WORLD: Methven firefighters who took part in Firefighter Sky Tower Challenge 2024 were (from left) Brent Anderson, Sammy Ridge, Matt Duncan, Robbie Ferguson (former brigade member) and Mark Brown.
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With their pulses racing and beads of sweat dripping from their faces, eight Mid Canterbury volunteer firefighters reached the top of the Sky Tower.

They were climbing the stairs of the Auckland skyscraper, taking part in Firefighter Sky Tower Challenge 2024.

Methven’s Matt Duncan had challenged Ashburton’s Geoffrey Barr to join him in the most challenging category, Firefighter of Steel. So, dressed in full fire fighting kit complete with breathing apparatus, the pair climbed 60 flights of stairs.

The climb raises money for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand. This year was the 20th anniversary, and it raised more than $1.9 million.

It is a cause close to Duncan’s heart, as his grandfather Michael Leonard lost his battle with leukaemia when Duncan was just 10. A photo accompanied Duncan on the climb, mounted on to his breathing apparatus tank.

Matt Duncan (left) and Geoffrey Barr competed in the Firefighter of Steel category.

‘‘I know grandad would be very proud of me making the climb,’’ Duncan said.

It was the fourth year Duncan participated in the Firefighter of Steel category.

He said undertaking the challenge was a good excuse ‘‘to get off my butt and push myself to the limit’’.

‘‘I was tired when I finished and had given it everything, I was knackered and my tank was empty,’’ Duncan said.

He is already thinking about next year and hopes to cut some time off his 20.07.16, which was about six minutes longer than the winning time of 14.21:63, from Aaron Johnston of the Palmerston Volunteer Fire Brigade.

Meanwhile, his fellow Firefighter of Steel entrant Barr was also pleased with his effort, completing the challenge in 23.50.35.

‘‘I was pretty chuffed with the results,’’ Barr said.

‘‘Once I reached the top, I felt relief, accomplishment and dead exhaustion.’’

He was planning on doing it again next year.

‘‘I would love to shave four minutes off my time,’’ Barr said.

TRIBUTE: Matt Duncan’s late grandfather Michael Leonard was with his grandson all the way as his photo was displayed on Duncan’s breathing apparatus tank.

‘‘I am blown away with the amount that I raised, the support from the community, friends and family was amazing,’’ he said.

The pair’s fellow Mid Canterbury firefighters were in the main category involving 51 flights of stairs.

In total more than $14,000 was raised by the Mid Canterbury volunteer firefighters – Duncan and Barr and Ashburton brigade’s Nick Rattray, Methven brigade’s Mark Brown, Sammy Ridge and Brent Anderson, and Rakaia’s brigade’s Luke Rushton and Dylan Dhue.

The top fundraiser nationwide was Tony Scott, who was one of the founders of the challenge. He raised $100,004.