One cold night in March I joined a group of daredevils in Falkirk who had decided to raise cash for charity by hot-footing it across fire.
Before leaving the office and possibly heading to my fiery doom, my colleagues were full of fantastic advice including fire-proof socks, aloe vera and reminders to take as big a step as possible.
Now brimming with confidence, I made my way to the Spirit of Life Church in Falkirk, the hosts of the event. This is the second time the church has held a firewalk so surely the first must have went off without a hitch, or fiery accident.
Arriving at the church nice and early I was introduced to the team of fire specialists who for a brief thirty seconds will have my life in their hands. Terry Careswell was the man taking charge of the night and joked with me saying it was his first time as well.
Dawn Hay, one of the heads at the Spirit of Life Church, explained Terry and his team from Ignite are what help spice up the firewalk and make it fun.
She said: “The guys really do get everyone in the mood for walking across hot coals. They take a group of strangers and make everyone relaxed and ready to walk bare-foot across fire.” According to Terry we had a long way to go before we were mentally ready to walk through the flames however.
He said: “First we teach you a brief history of the firewalk then we prepare you mentally before letting you anywhere near the flames.”
The group was taken inside where Terry led a small presentation about the history of firewalking as well as teaching us a few mind over matter tricks.
Placing our hands together, using the lines on your wrist to match them up, to see which hand was smaller we were then instructed to tell it to grow six times.
We then placed our hands together again to see the results. Terry, looking at our faces lit up with wonder and amazement, said: “This proves your body listens to your mind and can do brilliant things.”
Following this Terry started teaching the group the traditional war cry of New Zealand, made famous by the All Black rugby team, the Haka.
Going through the dance line by line, the whole class was soon well versed in the Haka and ready to have a face off against each other.
Divided into two groups, we took it in turns showing off our best moves finishing with our nostrils flared, mouth open, tongue out and trying to look as menacing as possible.
With everyone well and truly warmed up and having a laugh, Terry asked the class to write down a fear or something that is restricting us on a piece of paper.
He said: “We will take these fears, place them on the fire and see them burn. We will then be walking through the flames and no longer will we be held back by what was written on the pieces of paper.”
Once outside we gathered round the stretch of firewood and saw it transform into a stretch of fire, with flames dancing high in the moonlight.
The heat was both a welcome addition on the cold night but an unwanted reminder of what we were all about to do. Also it was proof there are no tricks, this is a real fire and real hot coals we will be walking across.
While waiting on the flames to die down I learned about the various causes people were putting themselves through this for.
Some were raising money for Strathcarron Hospice, the Spirit of Life Church and a few were fundraising for the #teamshanksy charity.
Kelly Kerrigan had decided to complete the firewalk to raise money for the charity that aims to raise awareness surrounding suicide in young men.
She said: “So far £7000 has been raised since the start-up of the charity in December by the family of Paul Shanks, who took his own life. Myself and Jodie Sinclair are facing our fears to help support this amazing charity in memory of a much loved and caring man.”
The flames had died down and created a walkway of embers that we were all going to walk across. Lining up I somehow found myself going last, who knows how that happened, and Terry stepped up to lead us across.
He said: “I have to lead by example, if I show the guys everything is fine, then they will follow me across.” Steadily I got closer to the flames and so far no one had screamed in pain or been burnt. People were even re-joining looking to go again, so it couldn’t be that bad.
Suddenly it was my turn and with the crowd egging me on I took my steps across the coal. I am not going to lie and say you do not feel anything but despite a slight tingling sensation I soon found myself at the end of the walk, feet in a bucket of water, showing off my power pose.
The firewalk is amazing and no one should pass up the opportunity to do one if given the chance.
Around £700 has been raised for the church and Terry and his team can tick off another successful walk across hot embers.