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Firefighters from Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) are aiming for a Christmas number one after teaming up with fire service personnel across the UK to release a charity single.
Patsy Begley, Assistant Group Commander (Cookstown District), and Barrie Davies, Station Commander (Lisburn Headquarters), joined over 40 fire service personnel including stars from TV’s The X Factor and The Voice to record their version of Band Aid’s “Do they know it’s Christmas?”
The group, known as ‘The Fire Tones’, will release their single today (Friday 30th November) to raise money for The Fire Fighters Charity and The Band Aid Charity Trust.
As cousin to The Voice winner Andrea Begley, and nephew to the queen of country music Philomena Begley, music has always been part of Patsy’s life. He was approached by Welshpool Firefighter and organiser, Chris Birdsell-Jones, who engineered the idea last December.
Assistant Group Commander Patsy Begley explains, “The organisers got in touch with me about the project back in April and I was really keen to get involved for such a great cause. But I thought it would be a low key affair, I certainly didn’t fully realise the scale of the production and the talent that would be involved.
“The recording session was just incredible. We wanted to honour the spirit of the original recording and get it all done in one day, just as they did with the original Band Aid single. So we all drove or flew into Birmingham for a 12 hour recording session, where we worked with producer Steve Osborne, and expert vocal arranger Louise Warren.”
Station Commander Barrie Davies, who worked in Wales before recently transferring to NIFRS, said he was one of the first to be recruited to the band:
“I’ve been singing professionally for 18 years, so the organisers knew this was something I’d be interested in. I’ve also used the services of the Firefighters Charity in Devon when I was injured a few years ago. The charity provides physical rehabilitation for Firefighters recovering from injury or illness, as well as mental health support for those who’ve experienced psychological trauma. So I was glad to be able to give something back.”
The odds of landing a Christmas number one are heating up with a host of star names involved including Firefighter Andy Quinn of Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, better known as the star of BBC’s Michael McIntyre’s Big Show. They’ve got some of this year’s X Factor contestants including Marc Higgins; Firefighter from Southampton Airport, and Richard Ryan; an on-call Firefighter from Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service.
Both Firefighters are amazed at the popularity of the project however, Station Commander Barrie Davies says no matter how high the single charts, it will have been worth it:
“It was fantastic to have worked with such a talented group of people and I’m proud to have been involved. Please help us support others this Christmas and buy the single.”
The single is now available on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon music and can be purchased from Tesco, with proceeds going to the Firefighters Charity and the Band Aid Charity Trust.