Firefighters have thanked Little Mix fans for their generosity following a fundraising collection last week, which raised more than £1400 for two charities.

Supporters of team StrongArm, set up in memory of Peter Metcalfe – a firefighter with Tyne & Wear Fire & Rescue Service – who died from stomach cancer at the age of just 35, held a charity collection outside Gateshead International Stadium on Thursday evening.

Donations taken by firefighters and other volunteers at the event will be given to The Fire Fighters Charity, which supports injured firefighters and The If U Care Share Foundation, a charity that helps families that have been affected by suicide.

As well as holding public collections, the firefighters take part in an annual StrongArm Challenge in aid of two charities each year. This year it takes place from September 6 to September 9 and culminates in the Great North Run, and will raise funds for The Fire Fighters Charity and The If U Care Share Foundation.

Peter Metcalfe, from South Shields, died in 2012 and had only been diagnosed with the disease two weeks earlier. The first signs of anything being wrong was when he noticed unexplained bruising on his legs the morning after he had been white water rafting in the Scottish Highlands. He married his long-term girlfriend Angela in the Chapel at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle two days before he passed away.

In 2013, in memory of Peter, 23 firefighters completed a four-day multi-disciplined endurance challenge which raised money for both the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants magical wishes to children fighting life threatening conditions and The Fire Fighters Charity, which provides health and wellbeing services to the fire services community.

The StrongArm Challenge has grown since 2013 with new physical challenges being introduced as the event has evolved. The main event has taken place every year since 2013 and for the past two years a Junior StrongArm event has run alongside the main StrongArm Challenge.

Organisers say that the StrongArm Challenge 2018 will be the biggest yet with over 40 adults committed to the main event and 20 young adventurers set to take part in the junior challenge.

Each year of the challenge has seen the organisers try and push the competitors a little further – and 2018’s event will be no exception. Spread over four days, StrongArm 2018 will include a swim of approximately 12 miles in Lake Windermere, a Mountain Marathon taking in England’s highest four peaks, a cycle event from Keswick to Newcastle, totalling 110 miles, and finally, competitors will run The Great North Run dressed as superheroes.

In 2015 the StrongArm Challenge won the Firefighters Team of the Year Award at the Spirit of Fire Awards held by the Fire Fighters Charity at the Westminster Park Plaza in London. The Spirit of Fire Awards is the most prestigious event in the fire and rescue services’ calendar, recognising acts of selfless sacrifice within the fire and rescue community and dedication to the charity.

The StrongArm Challenge has to date raised more than £100,000 for charities including The Make a Wish Foundation, The Fire Fighters Charity, Durham Trinity School, The If U Care Share Foundation, Calvert Trust, St John Ambulance and The Sir Ranulph Fiennes Centre Of Challenge & Inspiration.

Warren Metcalfe, brother of Peter Metcalfe and a firefighter with County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The StrongArm Challenge and fundraising collections have been a fantastic way of remembering Peter and bringing people together in his name to raise money for some great causes.

“We’d like to thank all of the people who gave so generously on Thursday evening – their donations will make a huge difference and are greatly appreciated by all of us at team StrongArm. We’d also like to thank Gateshead Council for their support in allowing us to hold the collection outside the stadium.”

For more information on the StrongArm challenge, visit https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/strongarm