Going the extra mile for charity: NFIA Patron’s Walk

From the 17th – 21st October, a group of 10 walkers will embark on a trek across Victoria’s iconic Great Ocean Road to help raise much-needed funds for Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation & UQ Queensland Brain Institute. With just over $240,000 of donations already raised, the National Fire Industry Association (NFIA) Patron’s Walk for Charity is well on the way to achieving it’s 2019 goal for $250,000.

Among those 10 trekkers are Brian Davies, Managing Director of ARA Fire and Ashley Knapp, General Manager of ARA Group WA, who are preparing themselves for the long trek between the 12 Apostles and Apollo Bay.

Brian & Liz Davies on the Three Capes walk in Tasmania.

Ashley & Vicki on their weekend walks in WA.

ARA Fire has a long-standing association with NFIA, with over 25 years of ARA Fire staff representing the NFIA as National and State Presidents across NSW, QLD and VIC. The NFIA also has a strong sense of responsibility when it comes to giving back to the community, with the NFIA Patron’s Walk for Charity being one of their key initiatives.

The NFIA Patron’s Walk for Charity is supporting the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation (GMRF) and the University of Queensland’s Brain Institute (QBI), which have 15 different research programs between them. Their research programs span a range of diseases, including many forms of Cancer, Melanoma, Dementia, Motor Neurone Disease, Schizophrenia, Stroke, Parkinson’s, and Epilepsy, as well as a wonderful program offering assistance to returned soldiers dealing with PTSD and returning to civilian life after active service. These funds will also help to sponsor a young scientist through the Alastair Rushworth PHD, in trying to find a cure for Dementia.

Alastair Rushworth PhD recipient Joey Benetatos

“The walk is really important to me for a lot of reasons, the fire industry is basically in the business of providing fire systems that save lives, which is what both of these wonderful organisations are representing through their 15 different research programs and by providing an opportunity for all of us to make a difference,” says Brian.

“My wife Liz came up with the idea of us organising the NFIA Patron’s Walk for Charity as part of my role as Patron of the NFIA. It was a great idea and we have not looked back, so my wife Liz played a huge role in making these walks become reality”.


Steps towards a brighter future

This will be the first of three walks with team members from ARA, with Cradle Mountain planned for 2020 and a strong potential to embark on Mt. Kosciuszko in 2021. The team aims to raise a total of $500,000 by 2021, and with the current balance standing at just north of $200,000 the road to this final goal is looking very achievable. Brian and Ashley have been looking forward to the 12 Apostles trek and although they hoped to have favourable weather throughout the trek, only finding out days before Victoria will be supplying 47 knot winds and rain for the entire duration of the walk.

After a recovering from a major back surgery 2 years ago, Brian is looking forward to the 50km walk over three days therefore he’s “training about 50km’s each week including some gym work. The key is to simply get the miles into your legs,” says Brian.

“Without preparation and training I think all the enjoyment would disappear very quickly. Personally, having my hip replacement 3 years ago has meant less sport and more walking, so I am most looking forward to ‘grounding’, (also known as ‘earthing’), for the benefits of being outdoors providing good mental and physical health benefits,” says Ashley.


Brian and Ashley are also looking forward to spending time with the other trekkers, socialising and walking with a returned solider Tim Thomas – ‘The Commando’ – and expect to learn a lot more about the issues faced by our diggers, such as learning to live with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Tim Thomas – “The Commando” 

“Our tenth walker, Commando Tim Thomas, was caught in an ambush in Afghanistan fighting insurgents. He has been through the program and tells the story of having lost 43 of his mates in the war and the fact that 240 have since committed suicide from the effects of PTSD. Tim describes it as an epidemic,” Brian says.

“Discussing the walk with friends and potential donors I cannot think of any of them that have not been touched or know of someone that has died of cancer or knows someone with mental health issues. As we progressed, we have become more and more passionate about advocating for these organisations,” says Ashley.

For more information on the NFIA Patron’s Walk for Charity as well as how you can get involved or make a donation, please visit: https://nfia-patrons-walk-for-charity.blackbaud-sites.com/

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