An inspirational American trip has stirred a Newbury firefighter to push forward with his charity plans to bring a touring pink fire engine to Berkshire.
Firefighter Mike Dumas, from Blue Watch at Newbury fire station, spent three weeks this October decked in pink fire kit on a stateside tour showing love and support to women and their families facing personal battles, including life-threatening illnesses. The experience was Mike’s second spell on the Pink Heals Tour, and he now hopes to start fundraising in his hometown of Hungerford to help launch the movement’s first international branch.
“It’s such a selfless thing – that’s what got me interested,” Mike said. “Pink Heals is love based. The initiative supports people, not causes, by changing how communities fundraise and directing money back into the community that raised it.”
Pink Heals was launched in 2007 and has grown to have more than 40 branches in America, with 120 pink emergency service vehicles. On Mike’s latest visit, which ended on Friday 24 October, he met eight-year-old Baylee Adkins in Richlands, North Carolina, who has been diagnosed with a brain and spinal tumour.
“She was amazed to meet the firefighters who had come to her town,” Mike added. “She said it was the best day of her life. This tour has been a really uplifting experience and quite emotional.”
Mike was born in South Africa and moved to the UK in 2002, joining Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service 10 years ago as a retained firefighter before becoming whole time in 2009. He is determined to bring Pink Heals to Berkshire and is putting together a fundraising event ahead of registering a charity in the UK. Mike said: “It’s been a long and slow process but I’m looking to get a vehicle which can be sprayed pink. Initially this will be for Berkshire, but as it grows we would look to set up branches in every county in the UK.”