A vibrant volunteer has thanked the fire service for helping him push himself

A vibrant volunteer has thanked the fire service for helping him push himself to try new things after a medical setback derailed his dreams.

As a child, Conner Weatherburn dreamed of becoming a firefighter with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS).

He left school after completing his GCSEs and became a painter, as The Service weren’t currently recruiting for his dream job.

But as he waited for his opportunity to arise, his life was rocked when he was diagnosed with a sudden bleed on the brain.

At the age of 17, Conner was devastated after the condition left him with impaired vision and he struggled to see what his future held.

Unable to apply to become a firefighter as a result of his medical condition, Conner has spent the last six years unsure what to do with his life.

The 23-year-old found himself volunteering at Action Station in South Tyneside and it was there that it was recommended he join the Prince’s Trust Team Programme.

Conner, from Simonside, South Tyneside, was apprehensive at first but says the 12-week course at South Shields Community Fire Station changed his life.

He said “I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do anything on the course, the bleed on my brain effected my vision so I wasn’t sure if this was going to be the right thing for me.

“But right away we were expected to work together with people we’d only met days before and it was really great because everyone threw themselves into it.

“I was a few years older than some of the people on my course but everybody just got on so well it was great to be around other young people who wanted to give back to their community.

“I think the best thing about the course was the amount of variety within the 12-weeks, no two days were the same and I did things I never thought I could do.

“I’ve gained some great skills and met some fantastic people on the course who have really helped me and provided advice to help me get to the next step in my career.

“Right now I know I am ready to do something a bit different and I know that I can thanks to the Prince’s Trust team.”

Conner is now back volunteering with Action Station but his newfound confidence means he is on the lookout for something new.

Collette Cutler, Diversionary Activities Team Leader for TWFRS’s Prince’s Trust Team Programme in South Shields, has praised Conner’s commitment and encouraged others to follow in his footsteps this September.

Collette said “I’m really proud of Conner and all the hard work he put into the course as I know how hard he thought it would be at the start.

“He is a great personality and I know that his future is bright even though there were times when he didn’t feel like that himself.

“I know people often think there is nothing out there for them or that there is no point getting involved in something like the Prince’s Trust but it really does change people’s lives.

“We work hard to give young people confidence and make them believe in themselves and their skills to help them find what they are passionate about and how to make it into a career.”

The Prince’s Trust Team programme is a 12-week programme ran by TWFRS in Community Fire Stations across the region.

The next course begins on 18th September in Washington, Farringdon, and South Shields.

You can visit the TWFRS website find out more information or to fill out their online form to sign up for the next course.