A familiar face seals a new career for an on-call firefighter

A joyful gym owner was inspired to achieve his life goal becoming a firefighter – after spotting a dad from the school run on a recruitment advert!

Jeff Ho lives in Chopwell with his wife of eight years and 12 year-old-son and has been running a gym and fitness business with his wife for over a decade.

The 45-year-old is of Chinese ancestry and was born just outside Glasgow, but has made a life in the North East after his family re-located when he was eight-years-old.

Jeff’s day job often sees him changing the lives of his clients, helping them overcome struggles they never thought they would face.

His wife and one of his two adult stepsons have careers in the NHS and Jeff had always had dreams of life in the emergency services.

But it was seeing a familiar face on a recruitment advert from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) that inspired him to make that dream a reality.

Jeff said: “I was just scrolling on social media one day and one of the on-call profile pieces was Andrew Herron, a dad I recognised from school run, and that sort of settled it for me.

“I saw there was an open evening and I went up to the station and introduced myself and they were so welcoming and happy to chat about what the recruitment process entails.

“When we first started on the course, it was pretty nerve-wracking but the more you did and the more you put yourself out there, the easier it became.

“And now we are out on station learning together it’s so much fun and so enjoyable, we’ve got a really great watch.”

Now Jeff is encouraging others to consider careers in the emergency services to help give back to their community.

He continued “I want to make my son proud, seeing his dad in this role might inspire him to think about his own future and what that means.

“But that goes for anyone, I’m so passionate about giving back to my community and I want to be role model for any children that might need to see someone who looks like them in a role they want to do.

“I’m excited to see where my time at TWFRS takes me because it’s not just about fighting fires it’s about education and keeping people safe, I know it’s going to be rewarding.”

Today (Thursday) Station Manager for TWFRS’s Chopwell Community Fire Station, Andy Nelson, praising Jeff for bringing his passion and positivity to his role as a firefighter.

Station Manager Nelson said “Jeff has such a great outlook on life and work it’s great to hear how excited he is to bring that to his role as an on-call firefighter.

“We get given the chance to speak to and inspire so many young people in this role and challenge what they think a firefighter is or could be.

“It’s not a one size fits all role, we need people from all backgrounds and jobs to help us create the safest community here in the North East.”

On-call firefighters are attached to one station in the immediate vicinity of their home and work address, often fulfilling the role alongside other full-time employment.

On-call and wholetime recruitment are now closed for 2023, but wholetime recruitment will be reopening later in 2024.

Find out more about the work TWFRS does on their website.