One town’s firefighters all love Land Rovers. Dave Phillips finds out why
Dave Phillips finds out why one crew at a particular fire station in Norfolk all love driving Land Rovers
One Christmas Day a few years ago I went to my local pub for a midday pint. It was pulled by barmaid Tracy, who had a big smile on her face. “You having a nice Christmas, then?” I asked. “Brilliant!” she grinned. “My next-door neighbour had a kitchen fire this morning.” “You don’t like your neighbours then?” “No, we get on fine,” she explained. “But I got to see the fireman going up and down the garden path. Best Christmas present, ever!”
We all love firemen – even if some of us, like Tracy, love them too much. But the truth is that no other public servants enjoy the same level of respect and admiration as firefighters. Others, like police, politicians, social workers, civil servants, refuse collectors and even the NHS, are often regarded with mixed feelings. But did you ever hear a bad word about a fireman? Of course not!
And no wonder. We so often see dramatic footage on the news of brave firemen putting their own lives in peril to save others. My most poignant memory remains 9-11, seeing hundreds of New York fire fighters entering the blazing twin towers of the World Trade Centre, knowing they would never return. In fact 343 of them died that tragic day.
Firemen are our favourite people, all right. So it should come as no surprise to LRM readers that their favourite vehicles are not big, red shiny fire engines but… Land Rovers, of course.
Take the crews at King’s Lynn fire station, for example. Their patch of Norfolk includes factories, docks, housing estates, heathland, farmland, a low-lying coastline under constant threat of flooding and HM the Queen’s residence at Sandringham. But in their spare time they like nothing better than getting out into that rural area in their Land Rovers.
Station manager Bob Ayers, who owns and drives an original 1990 Turbo Diesel Ninety, reckons at least ten of the town’s firemen drive Land Rovers – in some cases several. “We all love our Land Rovers – it has become a standing joke here,” he says.
The King’s Lynn firemen use them for commuting to work, everyday vehicles and weekend playthings. Some of them go greenlaning and off-roading, others use them as they go about their other outdoor hobbies, like fishing. But now they have come up with a great way of using their love of their favourite vehicles to help raise money for their own charity.
On Sunday October 22 they are staging a Charity Land Rover Run, which will include driving some of Norfolk’s most scenic lanes, as well as exclusive access to private roads of the Earl of Leicester’s Holkham Hall estate and Great Massingham Airfield, a former World War II bomber base that has never
before been opened to the public.
The event is the brainchild of operational support officer, Grant Cotterell, and support team administrator, Lynn Twite. They have planned a brilliant outing, which will start at the car park on the Sandringham Estate and finish at Holkham Hall. They have even persuaded Blue Watch to dish up bacon butties for all participants, which is open to LRM readers at just £10 a vehicle. All proceeds will go to the Fire Fighters Charity.
In return for helping to publicise this worthy event, LRM was allowed to go behind the scenes to interview some of the firemen and take photographs of them and their Land Rovers.
Firemen work shifts so they can protect us 24 hours a day. That means it was impossible to get them all together in one place at the same time for a photograph, but seven of them turned up for our shoot (and luckily there were no call-outs while this was taking place). Here’s what they had to say about the Land Rovers in their lives...
Above: Here are just a few of the Land Rovers belonging to the firefighters at King’s Lynn fire station