Sunderland burns victim Connor’s story travels Down Under

Connor Rowntree
Connor Rowntree
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A TRAGIC tale of a Sunderland schoolboy who suffered horrific burns is being used as part of a fire safety DVD – in Australia.

An educational video put together by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service will be used down under, helping teach young teens in South Australia about fire safety.

The service’s 2010 bonfire campaign featured the hard-hitting story of Houghton teenager Connor Rowntree, who suffered severe burns after an aerosol prank went wrong.

The 17-year-old underwent more than 100 operations and skin grafts over a 14-month period.

The DVD, called The Journey, was used to educate young people in Sunderland schools about the dangers of illegal bonfires and fire misuse.

The film was then spotted on the internet by Francie Tonkin, an officer at the South Australia Metropolitan Fire Service in Adelaide, who manages the Juvenile Firelighters Intervention Programme in South Australia.

Francie contacted Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to request copies of the DVD to use as part of the fire prevention work they do with children in the state.

Francie said: “Finding a way to help teenagers understand, in real terms, the consequences of experimenting with fire and home-made ‘bombs’ is a challenge. The video stories of the burn victims will be an invaluable tool for us to help young people really appreciate the impact of serious burns on their lives and on their families.

“Thank you to Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and thank you to the young people for sharing their stories so bravely.”

Group Manager Dave Jefferson of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “When we received the request from South Australia we were a little surprised but delighted that they wanted to use our video to educate children about fire safety.

“We were only too pleased to oblige, and we hope that the tragic stories of the young people featured in the videos can help prevent youngsters in South Australia from starting fires and suffering similar injuries.”

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