Students with autism enjoy visit to Sunderland fire station

South Hill College students visit Sunderland Central Fire Station. 
Students from left Ben, Mattinson, Ross Aitchison, Sophie Gray and Hugo Tyrrell. Firefighters from left, Chris Cook and James Parkinson.
South Hill College students visit Sunderland Central Fire Station. Students from left Ben, Mattinson, Ross Aitchison, Sophie Gray and Hugo Tyrrell. Firefighters from left, Chris Cook and James Parkinson.

Students realised their burning ambition as they paid a visit to a Sunderland fire station.

ESPA College South Hill, which caters for young adults with autism and learning difficulties, visited Sunderland Central Fire Station, on Railway Row.

Student Ben Mattinson with firefighter James Parkinson.

Student Ben Mattinson with firefighter James Parkinson.

The students had a tour of the fire station and put their questions to firefighters as they gained practical, hands-on experience.

The visit was part of the college’s enrichment projects which run alongside its academic curriculum.

Wendy Hannah, ESPA College South Hill events co-ordinator, said: “The idea behind the fire station tour was so our students could meet the real people who put their lives on the line in the name of public safety.

“The students enjoyed sitting in the fire appliance, learning a little about the running of the station and using the powerful water hose.

The students gained a brilliant insight by being hands on rather than classroom based

Wendy Hannah

“They also had a fantastic opportunity to ask questions at the end.

“The students gained a brilliant insight by being hands on rather than classroom based.

“A big thank you to the station officer and his crew for their patience and enthusiasm in making our visit informative and successful.”

ESPA College South Hill is based off the Cedars, in Ashbrooke, and all students there have autism and moderate to profound learning difficulties.

Student Hugh Tyrrell on the visit to the fire station.

Student Hugh Tyrrell on the visit to the fire station.

The college aims to offer a vibrant and extensive curriculum from within the building and in a range of community settings.

A number of students had a particularly keen interest in the visit to the fire station.

Sophie Gray, 18, was excited as her father was a retained firefighter in Cleveland for 21 years.

Sophie took along some of her father’s medals, including the Queens Golden Jubilee Medal and Long Service Medal for 20 years’ service, to show the firefighters.

Sophie asked why they chose to be firefighters and the overwhelming answer was to help people.

Hugo Tyrrell, 23, was very excited for the visit as he has a particular interest in emergency service vehicles.

Ben Mattinson, 21, particularly loved the practical side, learning how the water comes from the hose and the equipment on board the appliance.