A group of young people in Bideford have been learning fire fighting skills in a bid to improve their future.

ONLOOKERS clapped as a group of youths smashed through a car window, but this was no act of criminal damage,. In fact, it was the exact opposite.

The youngsters were carrying out a road traffic collision drill under the watchful eye of local fire fighters, rescuing a ‘casualty’ from the vehicle as part of a new project.

Nick Williams, a fire fighter from Appledore, explained: “These young people all have issues such as being expelled from school or getting in trouble with the police, and we have taught them some of the skills needed as a fire fighter.

“This is the first time we have run the Phoenix Project in Bideford, though it has been successful previously in Barnstaple.

“We hope it has given these young people some motivation, taught them team working skills and given them greater self esteem, getting them back on the right track.”

The exercise was a culmination of a week working alongside local fire fighters to learn valuable skills, and took place in the AFC Bideford football ground followed by an awards ceremony.

With their friends and family watching, the seven young people from Bideford College, Park School and Great Torrington School undertook the training before carrying out a traffic collision and breathing apparatus drill.

Neil Blackburn, Group Commander for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue service, said: “It is good to try and find things for youngsters to do and keep them occupied.”