Middlesbrough dad to run in aid of The Fire Fighters Charity in memory of his children

A Middlesbrough father who lost his two children in a house fire is hoping his charity run will raise awareness of the need for working smoke alarms.

It’s been almost 14 years since three-year-old Caitlin Scully and one-year-old Joseph Sands died from carbon monoxide poisoning at their home in Charlbury Road, but Robert Sands has never forgotten the firefighters who tried to save their lives.

He is hoping that running the Middlesbrough Tees Pride 10k next month in aid of The Fire Fighters Charity will raise awareness of how vital it is to have working smoke alarms installed in the home.

Robert, 36, who is dad to 16-month-old Hope and 18-week-old Lana, said: “I lost two kids all because I didn’t have working smoke alarms. It was over 13 years ago but I can still see the faces of the fire crews at the inquest afterwards. I want to give something back and if I can raise a bit of money and raise awareness of the need for smoke alarms lives could be saved as a result.”

Robert’s tragic loss means he is now extra vigilant with friends and family when it comes to staying safe in the home.

He said: “When I go to people’s houses I look to see if they have a smoke alarm. If they don’t I nag them to get one!

“We’ve got a new baby and when the health visitor came round she thought our smoke alarm looked old so we asked the fire brigade to come and do a home fire safety visit and they installed new ones for us.”

Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “The tragic deaths of Caitlin and Joseph have never been forgotten by Cleveland Fire Brigade. We work very hard to prevent fires in the home and thankfully, fire fatalities are rare in Cleveland. But we will continue to actively encourage every resident to install and check their smoke alarm weekly to make sure it works.

“We are very grateful to Robert for his efforts to not only raise money for a worthwhile cause that helps many firefighters and their families but to raise awareness of such an important issue in our community.”

Robert, who lives at Pallister Park and is a baker at Morrisons’ Ormesby Road store, is hoping to raise several hundred pounds following his run on Sunday, September 6 which will be matched by his employer up to £500.

Margaret Barnes Smith, Regional Fundraiser for The Fire Fighters Charity, said: “We are heartened that Robert has chosen to take part in the Charity run to raise this vital awareness and, at the same time, raise funds for the Charity.  Robert can be certain his fundraising will make a difference, supporting people in the fire and rescue community when they are in need. We will be cheering Robert on every step of the way.”

To donate to Robert’s JustGiving page visit:  https://www.justgiving.com/Robert-Sands1/