Bristol woman with fear of fire takes on charity challenge

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By sophia1980 | Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 12:41

A Bristol woman is tackling her fears head on in attempt to raise vital funds for a local charity she holds close to her heart.

Jo Richardson, 36, from Totterdown is taking on the St Peter's Hospice Firewalk challenge, where she will walk barefoot over five metres of red hot wooden embers, despite having a lifelong fear of fire and being burned.

The charity challenge is taking place on Friday 22 March in Millennium Square, Bristol where 70 participants will be put through their paces with professional instructors guiding them across the 500 degree centigrade embers.

Jo said: "I was burned as a child which is probably where the fear comes from. Although I've got much better in recent years I still refuse to get too close to naked flames, won't allow stand-alone heaters in my house and have to pick up hot toast with oven gloves! I am very nervous around any electrical appliances that generate heat, which is a good excuse to get out of doing the ironing!

"I have always supported St Peter's Hospice through donations to the shops but my involvement became more personal when the charity cared for my Grandpa at the end of his life. When I saw the Firewalk advertised I thought it was the perfect opportunity to give something back and face my fears in a creative way at the same time.

"My friends and family are shocked that I'm even considering it but they've encouraged me to go for it and they'll be there on the day cheering me on. The hardest part will be getting close to the heat and I'm sure there might be a few tears involved. The frustrating part is knowing that there is nothing I can do to prepare, but the thought that I'm doing it for a great cause will give me the motivation to cross those coals!"

Jo will be in safe hands on the day with experts Survivorbility running the event. Experienced instructors, all accredited by the Fire Walking Institute of Research and Education (FIRE), will give a motivational training seminar as well as a short safety brief and a demonstration of how to walk on the fire.

Spaces are still available for the event with registration costing £20. It is hoped that participants will raise a minimum of £175 for Bristol's only adult hospice which cares for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families in the city.

Celebrating its 35th anniversary year, St Peter's Hospice cares for more than 2,670 patients each year. It costs £6.8 million to run the hospice with 77% of that coming from public support.

Jo continued: "I set myself a target of raising £175 but in just three days I have raised nearly £400 in donations from friends and family in Bristol, Australia, America and Belgium. I'm amazed by the support!

"It's great to be able to give back to the charity which helped my family during a hard time. My Grandpa was never officially diagnosed but he suffered from a form of Motor Neurone Disease. He lived at home with my Nana, who herself is disabled, and eventually it became too much for her.

"Grandpa was admitted to St Peter's Hospice in June 2011 where they were able to make him much more comfortable with pain relief and round-the-clock care. It also allowed him some dignity and privacy and most importantly it allowed us to be his family again rather than his carers. The hospice enabled us to spend quality time with him while we could, which is why I want to support it now."

St Peter's Hospice events fundraiser Louisa James said: "It's absolutely fantastic that Jo is taking this challenge on and facing her fears. I really hope this event can be a turning point for her and look forward to cheering her on on the day!"

If you would like to sign up for the Firewalk please visit the website at



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