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Firefighters to set sights on sky challenge

Six of the eight members of the Featherston Volunteer Fire Brigade training for the Firefighters Sky Tower Challenge in May. Niamh McNamara, left, Ajay Bhati, Zea Fael, Etienne Venter. Front row, Brenden Saayman, and Pito Wongpown. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

A group of stair-climbing Wairarapa firefighters are in the leading pack of fundraisers for a national campaign to scale the Sky Tower for a good cause.

Eight members of Featherston’s volunteer fire brigade will step up the Auckland landmark’s 51 flights and more than 1100 stairs in May.

The Sky Tower Firefighter Challenge event has been running since 2005, raising millions for the Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand [LBC] charity.

The covid-19 lockdown delayed last year’s event, and the continued heightened alert levels scuppered some fundraising opportunities for the Featherston team.

Even so, they are more than halfway to their $10,000 target in the brigade’s first attempt at the challenge.

Featherston firefighter Ajay Bhati, right, said it means a lot to his family to contribute to the fight against cancer.

The team have been busy training, using the hills around Featherston as a picturesque substitute for the tower.

They have also been diligent with their fundraising efforts, gaining support from Featherston’s Own Charitable Trust and plenty of backing from businesses.

Ajay Bhati is one of the volunteers, and his Ka Pai Cleaning company has also backed the team.

Bhati said the charity has “a lot of significance” for his family.

“Being the recipient of the support from Cancer Society and Leukaemia and Blood Cancer NZ meant a lot to our family at that time.

“I want to give back in any way I can to all those families who are going through it now.

“It means a lot to my family and me to be able to contribute.”

Each firefighter would wear up to 25kg of kit to climb up the tower, the tallest building in the southern hemisphere, at 328 metres.

Members will continue to fundraise up to the big day and be at community events in the next few weeks as the final countdown looms.

The team would be out at April 10’s rescheduled Martinborough Fair, and at markets and events in Featherston, including a quiz at the Garrison RSA bar on Thursday, April 15.

The team would travel to Auckland for the event on Saturday, May 22.

  • Visit the event website, firefighterschallenge.org.nz/t/featherstonfirebrigade, to donate and get more information about the challenge.
  • Follow the team’s Facebook page, facebook.com/KaPaiCrew, to see what training and events are happening.

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