Firewalk raises funds for Break charity

Bare feet trod quickly across the fiery coals as scores of brave souls, and soles, tackled a red hot challenge for charity.

Buoyed up by a motivational session in a marquee, the troops trotted out on to the damp cold grass under a wintry star-speckled sky to walk over the glowing embers laid out in a line.

They briskly covered the few yards, cheered on by colleagues and supporters. Some jumped with joy rather than pain, at the end of their fire walk. Others whooped and punched the air at their personal triumph of mind over matter in the garden of the King's Head pub at Letheringsett near Holt.

Sponsorship pledges are set to tot up to about �9,000 for Sheringham-based Break charity, nearly doubling their target for the event.

Among those taking part was Break's newly appointed chief executive Chris Hoddy, who has climbed mountain peaks and run 10k in the past but never walked on burning coals,

A lot of Break staff did the event so he wanted to 'lead from the front' to support the 'passion and commitment of the guys doing it'.

He said it was 'an interesting experience' and the turnout and figure raised was 'fantastic'.

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The charity, which provides a range of services from children's home to respite holidays for the disabled, also faced a challenge in the coming months, as the impact of public sector spending cuts became clear. But he said it was 'in a strong position ' to take on some of the roles which local government might want to shed.

Events officer Martin Green said more than 75 people took part, and were given a motivational session by fire walk organisers Blaze beforehand which put them in a positive state of mind.

He took part and said he was more aware of the cold grass and mud than the hot coals.

Break has held two other fire walk sessions in recent years at Easton College and Dereham. Its next fund raising event is a cross country run at the Stody Estate in February. For more information contact Mr Green on 01603 670107 or visit www.break-charity.org

Reporter STEVE DOWNES gives his thoughts after joining the intrepid firewalkers.

I can exclusively share with you the secret of how to walk on hot coals

without burning your feet.

It's not repeating a mantra like 'cool, wet moss', or getting your

inner being in balance with nature. And thanking the wood for dying and

allowing itself to be burnt will also not help.

The secret, for me, was Norwich City striker Chris Martin.

During a hilarious, 90-minute motivational session with the boss of the

firewalk company, we were told to close our eyes and picture a great

moment, then let it all out in a huge celebration.

For me, the picture was Martin scoring an injury-time winner against

Leeds United last season.

If you're a City fan, you'll understand how the picture of that moment

helped me to ignore logic and walk barefoot across coals glowing at a

temperature of 1,200C.

If you're not, you'll be even more convinced that I'm an idiot.

Which is exactly what I must have been as I sat in King's Head at

Letheringsett, sticking resentfully to the 'no-alcohol-for-firewalkers'

rule and waiting for my moment of madness.

Thankfully, there were plenty of other fools - and we were in the safe hands

of a man who claimed to have a 100pc record of getting people across

the coals with sole-skin intact.

The motivational session in a nearby marquee did not involve any New

Age mumbo-jumbo, and - despite rumours - no pretending to be a giant

chicken laying an egg.

Instead, it was all about positive mental attitude, emanating from

standing tall and proud and saying good things about yourself.

Crikey, for a few minutes I even believed that I was 'amazing,

incredible and magnificent' - which was pretty much what we had to

shout at the top of our voices in the lead-up to the walk.

By the time we lined up by the hot coals, I was fired up like a rocket

ready for launch.

My watching family and friends provided extra motivation, while

standing on wet, cold grass in bare feet in November made the hot coals

seem attractive.

Finally, it was my turn, and I strode purposefully down the glowing

path.

I didn't feel a thing, except a slight crunch beneath my feet.

When I finished, my soles felt slightly sunburnt for a couple of

minutes. But that passed, and I felt great.

Now I'm making the most of my temporary delusional impression that I'm

unbeatable by musing over the next challenge.

Maybe a bungee jump or a skydive? With Chris Martin as my secret

weapon, I'm ready for anything.