Topsham firefighter fights for equality

A Topsham firefighter is putting himself at the forefront of the service’s stance against homophobia.

Ollie Baitup, 26, who has been working at Topsham Fire Station for two years, has been named as a Devon and Somerset Fire Service champion of equality.

As part of his new role, Ollie organised a flag raising ceremony to mark International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO Day), at the service’s headquarters in Clyst St George.

Ollie joined fellow equality champion Kellie Hawley from Taunton to raise the rainbow flag on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Ollie and Kelly were joined by Deputy Chief Fire Officer Neil Gibbins and members of the force’s Senior Management Board.

Ollie said: “As a service, we decided to get involved with IDAHO Day because it’s something a lot of organisations are getting involved with and Kellie and I wanted to show our support for it.

“It’s our way of saying that, as we’re striving for excellence as a service, we have to go forward in terms of treating everyone equally and giving each other a fair chance.”

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Ollie says he was inspired to campaign against homophobia after being involved in the Exeter Pride Festival.

“That got me into it and now I’m involved in organising the Torbay Pride Festival as well.

“It’s quite an honour that the service is calling me a champion for equality, and we’re definitely going to be doing further events and making the IDAHO day ceremony an annual occasion.”

IDAHO Day is an international event which marks the anniversary of the World Health Organisation removing homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1990.