Re­turn­ing to the tower top

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - OUT & ABOUT - MATTHEW SAL­MONS

Sweat beads roll down his face, pool­ing in his mask. Breaths be­come laboured, gear be­comes heav­ier, steps be­come shorter but still he climbs the 51 flights of stairs.

Each of the 1103 in­di­vid­ual steps brings South­bridge vol­un­teer fire­fighter Wayne Maw closer to the top of Auck­land’s Sky Tower.

Com­pared to what those he hopes to aid go through, this pain is noth­ing, he thinks.

This year he took sec­ond place in the over 50s cat­e­gory, cross­ing the line af­ter 12 min­utes and 27 sec­onds of con­stant strain.

Maw and his bri­gade com­pleted their sixth Fire­fighter Sky Tower Stair Chal­lenge ear­lier this year and are now be­gin­ning the process of fundrais­ing for next year.

‘‘We’re fundrais­ing now, we didn’t ac­tu­ally stop. That’s what it’s all about, it’s Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand’s (LBC) big­gest fundraiser,’’ Maw said.

In the past the bri­gade had run quiz nights, BBQs and had been ‘‘out bucket shak­ing’’ to raise the funds. This year they were scrap hunt­ing.

To sup­port the bri­gade, peo­ple could do­nate scrap metal or old car bat­ter­ies to be taken and sold to Me­tal­corp NZ.

‘‘Ev­ery now and again we’ll do a scrap run. Peo­ple who have scrap, they can just take it to Me­tal­corp and it just goes into the fund.’’

Over the past six years the South­bridge bri­gade had raised al­most $85,000 to­wards the cause. ‘‘Not too bad for a town of 900,’’ Maw said.

The last three events had each raised more than $1 mil­lion for LBC. Climbers paid their own way to the event to ensure all money raised went to LBC.

‘‘It’s a fundraiser, but if you get enough fire­fight­ers in one place it be­comes a race,’’ Maw said.

Train­ing for next year’s event would be­gin in earnest in spring, and stay­ing ahead of younger climbers, in­clud­ing his son Steven from the Lee­ston fire bri­gade, kept Maw’s head in the game.

‘‘No one [from South­bridge] has beat me up there in six years and I’m the old­est. I’m 53 now. They’re not go­ing to beat me, that’s my mo­ti­va­tion.’’

Wayne Maw and the South­bridge Vol­un­teer Fire Bri­gade are fundrais­ing al­ready for next year’s event.

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