Fundraising fire walk in Boston, Lincolnshire raises £11,000 for the Butterfly Hospice Trust

Adapted from an article by Rob of Lincolnshire Pride

Fundraising fire walk in Boston, Lincolnshire for the Butterfly Hospice Trust

Fundraising fire walk in Boston, Lincolnshire for the Butterfly Hospice Trust

Bostonians are definitely behind fundraising for the in-patient hospice, which will provide an invaluable service not just to Boston and the surrounding area, but the Pilgrim Hospital’s catchment area and beyond.

55 volunteer fundraisers took part in the fire walk

It’s impossible to exaggerate the difference it will make to patients, but to demonstrate just how willing the public is to support the hospice, consider the fact that 55 volunteers turned up to take part in the firewalk. After signing the scariest disclaimer form I’ve ever seen, which stated that people HAVE been burned and that injury IS a very real risk, and after a worrying briefing in which it was once more acknowledged that the fire WILL burn the soles of the feet, not one person backed out of the challenge. Everyone who turned up eventually walked through the fire, because every participant was behind the Butterfly Hospice Trust’s fundraising aims.

The fire walking event began with Martyn, a hypnotherapist by trade, and his fire man Andrew setting up at the PRSA site. The fire walk was hosted at Boston’s Rugby Club, and to protect their grounds, the fire was set on turf with a 50cm tall pyre of oak and mahogany created, fuelled also by firelighters and liberal doses of an accelerant. The fire was lit just an hour before we walked over the embers, just as a firework display, barbecue and demonstration by junior members of the rugby club took place. The temperature of our pyre was measured – it was burning to just over 1,200°C, and shortly, we would walk barefoot for 20 feet at temperatures over double that of your oven’s hottest setting to raise money for the trust.

The fire walk was preceeded by an inspiring seminar that got the adrenaline flowing
Whilst the fire was burning, participants were taken into a briefing room and were given a short seminar by Martyn who explained that there was no trickery involved in fire walking, no secret, just positive thinking and self-discipline. “From an early age we learn to fear fire.” Martyn explained to me. “When we have children we instill into them that fire will burn, that they mustn’t go near the fire, that fire is dangerous. It’s true, but because of that, we assume that we can’t walk across the burning embers. It’s not true. We can, and we’ll prove it tonight.” After the seminar, all 55 participants, fuelled by the adrenaline that Martyn had talked into us, made our way outside and joined the embers, removing shoes, socks and tights, then rolling trouser legs up to calf height. Ironically, the embers were burning to 550°c but participants were still cold given that the heavens had opened and torrential rain was battering the stadium… still, at least our feet would be warm!

Walking on fire is an odd sensation!

One by one, the participants stood at the beginning of the walk, stated their name in a loud voice then took one, two, three, four, five, six bare-foot strides across the burning wood with no protection. Upon reaching the end we were hosed down and rejoined the group, often opting to go across again… I walked three times and loved every minute… it’s an odd sensation. With a rain sodden rugby field and bare feet making my soles numb, the first couple of steps were positively pleasant, but as Martyn stated, the last step is often hard with the heat really coming through on the final step. There’s nothing to block the heat… participants could feel every single degree, but Martyn was right – once the first couple of steps are taken, and you realise there’s no need to fear taking each stride, you’re on a bit of a high, particularly due to the encouragement of the crowd as we all cheered each other on.

A fire walking explanation – according to science

Wood is a poor conductor of heat, hence the reason the first few steps don’t burn the feet, and because mahogany and oak each produce round rather than square embers, the fire feels relatively soft. Furthermore, with the heel and toe rarely making contact with the ground at the same moment, the feet never remain in contact with the fire for long. There’s science, as well as positive thinking, behind fire walking, but it certainly remains an impressive sight, culminating in a real sense of achievement afterwards. In a short debriefing afterwards, we all congratulated each other, and recovered from the torrential rain, with all 55 participants receiving certificates. We were also told how to treat any firekisses – that’s a PR-friendly term for a burn – and back home, I was glad to shower half a rugby field from my feet and self-medicate with a little after-sun for my soles and red wine for the soul.

The fire walkers raised £11,000 for the Butterfly Hospice Trust!

Most of all though, we toasted the efforts of the fundraisers, who managed to raise an impressive £11,000 for the Butterfly Hospice Trust as well as raising the profile of the charity and its work. “Some volunteers raised over £1,100.” Said Fundraising Manager Jane Parsons. “The feedback we’ve received has been extraordinary – everyone had a great time and we’re really pleased. Local community and individual support is really important for the success of the hospice and together we really can make a difference.” For more information or to take part in future Butterfly Hospice Trust projects, see www.butterflyhospice.com or call 01205 311222.

Member of the Firewalking Institute of Research and Education