Jo will walk on fire for St Peter's Hospice... despite being so scared she can't even light a candle
A WOMAN who has had a fear of fire since she was a child is preparing to tackle her fears by walking over hot coals.
Jo Richardson's fear of being burnt is so great that she struggles to cook toast for herself or to sit at a table in a restaurant where a candle is burning – but she is putting her long-standing fear aside to tackle the fire walk for St Peter's Hospice after they cared for her grandfather at the end of his life.
The 36-year-old from Totterdown is not certain about the cause of her long-standing phobia but it has become a long-standing source of stories for her family.
"For as long as I can remember, I have had this fear," she said.
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"Going back to being a small child I can remember being quite overwhelmed by fire and thought if I got too close to something I was going to get burnt and there are family stories told about my hysterical reactions."
Ms Richardson suffered burns after she was scalded as a child and after her grandfather's funeral in 2011 a member of her family recalled how during her christening she "almost set fire to St Mary Redcliffe" after becoming enthralled by a candle, but she cannot remember the incident herself.
Having had the long-lasting fear of fire and being burnt when Ms Richardson saw that St Peter's Hospice was holding a fire walk event it seemed the perfect challenge to set herself for the charity in memory of her grandfather Ken.
He was suffering with a form of motor neurone disease that was never formally diagnosed and was involved with St Peter's Hospice during the last two years of his life
Ms Richardson, a former nurse, said: "It was really painful to watch as we could see he was still there and was aware of what was going on with his body but could not communicate and tell us what he needed.
"St Peter's Hospice got involved when Bristol Royal Infirmary discharged him."
Ms Richardson, her grandmother and other relatives initially helped to care for her grandfather but when St Peter's became more involved it meant they could focus on being "relatives rather than carers".
Ms Richardson had always taken donations to the charity's shops, but having become more aware of its services she was keen to do more.
"I had always associated St Peter's Hospice with a place that someone with cancer went and it had never occurred to me that they supported other people with life-limiting illnesses.
"Having had the personal involvement, when I saw a leaflet about the fire walk after initially thinking I'd be frightened, it came back to me as something I could do.
"My mum laughed when I told her but everyone has realised it is a good way of me challenging myself."
Ms Richardson set herself a fundraising target of £175 for the fire walk in Millennium Square on Friday, but has already raised more than £500.