Hampshire firefighters are teaming up with Simplyhealth to improve the lives of children in the area.

The 14 pupils, aged between 12 and 14, will start the Phoenix programme, run by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, at Andover Fire Station next week.

The course, which has been carried out at numerous other stations across the county, aims to build the confidence of young people as they train to complete a full fire drill.

The Andover course has been made possible by a £4,500 donation from health plan provider Simplyhealth. Staff will be attending and taking part in some of the sessions.

Children and Young People team leader Gary Sloan said: “The Phoenix course promotes teamwork, planning, communication and self-belief.

“Carrying out a firefighter drill is a complicated and challenging procedure and shows the children that they can achieve anything.

“We will coach and mentor them to help them to reach their full potential.”

The group will be intensively trained for five days starting on Monday with the aim of carrying out a full fire drill with the concentration and discipline of firefighters by the end of the course.

This will be followed up by four-day long workshops throughout November and December covering first aid, road safety, fire safety in the home and a day of activity using breathing apparatus.

A presentation evening is also planned for December when pupils will receive a certificate signed by the Chief Dave Curry.

They will also be taught hose-running techniques and have uniform inspections carried out by firefighters.

Simplyhealth Andover Community Fund chairman Colin Perry said: “We’re delighted to support the Phoenix course, giving young people in the local community the opportunity to develop lifelong skills and learning about the core values of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.

“A number of our employees will also be attending the course and are looking forward to taking part in the activities.”

The pupils were referred by Winton School, John Hanson School and Harrow Way.

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