Firefighters have helped a schoolboy come closer to achieving his goal of visiting every fire station in the UK.
Andrew Dane Impey (10) spent part of his summer holiday along with his dad Paul visiting 22 stations in Aberdeenshire, Inverness, Aberdeen, Shetland and Fair Isle, bringing the tally of stations he has visited so far to well over 800.
Andrew has autism – and part of his mission is to increase awareness of the condition, and to raise funds for the Fire Fighters Charity.
He has already raised more than £1,600 for the charity through his Just Giving page.
Andy Buchan, Station Manager for Aberdeen City, praised Andrew’s outstanding effort.
He said: “We were delighted to support Andrew in helping him achieve his goal.
"His challenge highlights the diversity of work which we carry out as a service and that, along with his fundraising activity is appreciated by all of us.
“I think he is also a very positive role model for other young people with autism by showing what can be achieved and I look forward to hearing how he gets on with the remainder of his challenge.
“We took him to visit four stations in Aberdeen and gave him a demonstration of our all-terrain vehicle in action during a training session at the Gramps.”
Andrew, form Portsmouth, also visited Inverurie, Kintore, Inverness and Aberdeen International Airport fire stations and had a guided tour of the RNLI station in Aberdeen.
Martin Stubbs, Head of Fire Service at Aberdeen International Fire & Rescue Service said: “Andrew was given a practical demonstration of the capability of the personnel and equipment.
“Our Blue Watch crew gave a demonstration of the Rosenbauer Panther Major Foam Tender Pump which particularly impressed Andrew.
“He was great fun, very enthusiastic and showed a fantastic level of knowledge.
“It would be a great pleasure to welcome back Andrew in the future and hear how he has done.”
Initially he set himself the target of visiting every station in Hampshire but it wasn’t long before his One Lad’s Challenge grew and he decided he wanted to visit all the stations in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
So far, Andrew and his family have identified 2,355 stations which includes some stations at airports and RAF bases as well as a number of private stations but the list keeps growing.
Mum Kirstine said: “Every time we visit a station, we hear about another private one which isn’t on our list so the total number to visit just keeps growing.
“We set a target of visiting 250 a year but Andrew has already visited more than 800 over the past 18 months so we think we will have another three to four years of visits.
“Andrew has also visited fire stations in Denmark, although they are not included in the UK total.”
Two years ago, Andrew could not read or write, had very poor social skills and struggled to communicate with people he didn’t know.
He then transferred to a different mainstream primary school and that, combined with his fire station journey, has made a huge difference in his life.
He can now read and write, has become outgoing and communicates well, particularly with fire fighters and support personnel.
“The Fire Service has been absolutely brilliant in the work they have done to support Andrew and the way they’ve helped bring him out of his shell has just been fantastic,” said Kirstine.
“Every single firefighter he has met has been so accommodating and has gone out of their way to help him. We can’t thank them enough.”
Follow Andrew’s challenge at www.facebook.com/myfirestationjourney or give a donation at www.justgiving.com/oneladschallenge.