A Firewalker Experience by Gillian Fitzsimmons, parent of Orpheus student

"I was immediately drawn to attempting a firewalk at the Orpheus Fire Festival because it ticked a few boxes for me. This experience has been on my bucket list for a while as a personal challenge and of course it was raising money for the Orpheus Centre where my daughter Georgia has been a student since September 2018.

Orpheus do amazing work, tapping into the creativity, imagination and talent of the students and in doing so empowering them with what I believe are skills for life: confidence, independence and resilience.  So of course, I want their fabulous work to continue.

Before the firewalk we had training on the risks, the science behind it, the mindset required and the best way to walk across in order to come away smiling! This was put across very well and although feeling nervous, I felt reassured in the hands of a double Guinness World Record holder for most distance walked on hot coals.

So, all fired up, T-shirt donned, crowd in place and music on full blast playing ‘feeling hot, hot, hot’ (!), we all stood in a long line and, having watched the trainer go first, we took turns to take the plunge when we felt ready.

Taking a deep breath in as instructed and adding my own affirmation of ‘I can do this‘ in my head, I walked across the coals, hands in the air to the other side and the cool, cool grass. 

I can honestly say I didn’t feel the heat even though it was 510 degrees (compared to the average barbecue at 220 degrees)!

In the training we were told we could go around again, but even though I thought once was more than enough, with the encouragement of the other firewalkers, I actually walked it four times! It felt so good to complete it.

I can see from my own daughter, and I’m guessing other students, that in Orpheus they are regularly attempting and succeeding with their own personal ‘firewalks’, in their own time, through the power of creativity expressed in the performing and related arts. 

Having had two girls go through mainstream education, I believe that the approach at Orpheus shows all schools how to get the best out of our young people."