Merseyside man welcomed by sirens and lights in Spanish town after cycling 2300km for charity

The ex-firefighter and dad-of-three from Wirral was greeted by the local Spanish fire service and his family.

An ex-firefighter has completed a 2324km cycle to Spain, to raise money for the charity that ‘restored’ his life.

Nick Dalby, 68, cycled to from Wirral to the Costa Blanca, over 21 days, for the Fire Fighters Charity.

After a three week journey, the dad of three reached his destination in Torrevieja on Thursday night, cycling thousands of kilometers and climbing 18,627m - that’s climbing Everest twice - along the way.

His was welcomed with open arms by the Spanish city’s fire service, who set off sirens and lights to celebrate his achievement.

Nick Dalby is welcomed by firefighters in Torrevieja, Spain.

Nick’s story

Nick’s adventure involved ferry journeys, wildcamping at night and visiting local restaurants along the way.

He joined Merseyside Fire and Rescue in 1975, aged 21, and was discharged 20 years later due to an injury on duty.

Nick is hoping to raise £2100 for The Fire Fighters Charity

The physical injury had no immediate impact on Nick’s mental wellbeing but over the next 20 years his mental health began to crumble.

He told LiverpoolWorld: “The damage occurred with several incidents that were to cause the havoc. It remained dormant until about 10 years ago, from when my decline was slow but steady.

“That story is too long to tell but if you listen to ‘Crawling’ by Linkin Park and visualise the despair that is evoked, that was my daily life. Unmanned and unworthy.

“I felt guilt for failing. Shame for letting my family down and less of a man because I thought others hadn’t been affected.”

Nick sought help from Heswall and Pensby Group Practice and was eventually diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

He praises his GP, Dr Lesley Walker but said: “Mental health is severely underfunded to the point it is ineffectual to sufferers with complex issues. My experience supports that statement and I know of other sufferers left without meaningful treatment through the NHS.”

He set off at 8:30am.

The Fire Fighters Charity were able to offer him a week of rehabilitation at one of their centres, with one to one sessions of psychiatric help.

“The treatment E.M.D.R. was brutal and mentally exhausting but very effective. Because of the complexity of my case I needed to return for another week. They were able to allow my wife to stay with me to enable me to be supported 24 hours even though a nurse was always on hand.” Nick explains.

Eye Movement Desensitisation Movement Therapy is a treatment specifically designed for PTSD, allowing individuals to briefly focus on a trauma memory while experiencing bilateral stimulation (eye movements). It is associated with a reduction in the vividness and difficult emotion associated with trauma memories.

The journey

Nick aimed to raise £2100 with an estimated journey of 2100km. The journey from Wirral, through France and finally to Spain, ended up being 2324km and he raised over £2300.

Nick on the ferry from Poole to Cherbourg.

The adventure was completed solo and Nick had many late evenings cycling and rushing to catch a ferry.

Although the journey was challenging, Nick enjoyed some much needed relaxation too, visiting a campsite near La Rochelle and having a dip in the pool.

His wife, Lydia, told LiverpoolWorld that he met ‘lovely people’ on his journey, including a a couple at a restaurant who secretly paid for his meal.

Lydia added that she was ‘very happy’ to see her husband again, and proudly shared his achievements on social media.

Locals in Spain heard about Nick’s journey and arranged for him to cycle into Torrevieja Fire Station to be celebrated by the local fire service.

Nick chatted to the crew about the Firefighters Charity.

Joined by his wife, daughter and granddaughter, the fire crew set off sirens and lights, and gave Nick gifts to congratulate his achievement.

The Fire Fighters Charity

Mental health support is just one of the things that The Fire Fighters Charity offers to serving and retired firefighters. The charity aims to help them live happy and healthy lives, physically and mentally. They believe that no issue is too small and also offer support to family members.

They state that ‘there is no such thing as not being bad enough to call us’ and offer support through their telephone support line.

Help Nick reach his goal here.