A TOP firefighter at Egremont Fire Station is appealing to the community to help them smash their textile target in a national competition.

The station has won the Bag it and Bank it competition for the last five years, and are keen to retain their title.

Last year they collected a massive 14.7 tonnes of textiles, bags and shoes, raising more than £3,240 for the Fire Fighters Charity, the UK’s leading provider of services to enhance lives for serving and retired firefighters, fire personnel and their families.

This year the station is aiming to exceed 15 tonnes.

Watch manager for Egremont fire station, David McDowell, said: “Last year the support was absolutely fantastic by the community and surrounding areas. It shows an appreciation for emergency services.”

Donations flooded in from all over Cumbria, they even received donations from Millom and Center Parcs.

When asked why he thinks there is such an amazing response to the campaign from the community, David said: “I just think the fire service gets good support. We’ve done Santa’s grotto in the past and car washes and now we’re coming up to the sixth year. People like to see Egremont coming first.”

Kevin Biles, from the Fire Fighters Charity, who came up with the recycling idea, said: “They have an absolutely awesome team led by David McDowell. He came to me six years ago and said he wanted to win the competition. I didn’t know where Egremont was then, but everyone in the fire service knows where Egremont is now. They have awesome leadership.”

He said: “An average collection from the fire service is about £250 to £300 and Egremont generate well over £3,000, which is phenomenal.”

David praised the Whitehaven News and News & Star for their help in getting the word out about the collection.

He explained that everything that is collected is reused. Clothes go to third world countries and anything that can’t be shipped out are recycled with some being used in upholstery in car seats.

David thanked the community for getting Egremont known.

He said: “At the end of the day we couldn’t do it without the local community. It’s the local community that is putting Egremont on the map.”

He said that winners of the competition receive hampers, which they have also donated out to local causes. Previous benefactors include West Cumberland Hospital and the food bank.

Clothes, bags and shoes can be dropped off at Egremont Fire Station until January 31. The only textile items which can not be collected are duvets, duvet covers and pillows.

David said that people should bring their textiles to the the collection banks at the station, which will be checked daily. If they are full the textiles should be stored inside the station.

Kevin said that nationally the recycling scheme generates over £650,000 for the firefighters charity each year, which benefits firefighters in their time of need.