A SKY-HIGH vigil in aid of firefighters killed in the New York atrocities sparked the biggest street collection Chester has seen.
Chester firemen and the city council were astounded by the generosity of the public who queued to donate in the record-breaking event.
Sub-officer Tony Jones spent 48 hours suspended 100 ft in the air on an aerial lift while colleagues collected cash on the ground. They raised £21,299 and that was just in the collection buckets.
With corporate donations and in-shop collections still flooding in, the final figure is not expected to be known until the end of the month.
Sub-officer Jones said: 'The response was absolutely unbelievable, people were actually queueing to put money in the buckets and the donations were coming in round-the clock. Now I'm just emotionally drained, it's not so much physical tiredness but I put a lot of work into organising it and I'm mentally exhausted.'
But Sub-officer Jones says he would do it all over again if it would help his comrades in America. He added: 'If somebody said I will donate £2,000 to the funds if you stay up there for another 48 hours, of course I'd do it.'
One inspiration was Hoylake resident Ron Schanck, a firefighter at the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port. Mr Schanck recently moved from America where he was a firefighter for 10 years.
Many of his friends and former colleagues lost their lives when the World Trade Center came down.
Sub-officer Jones added: 'We had pictures of some of the New York firemen for people to look at which was very moving. But for Ron some of them weren't just faces, they were friends. He helped with the street collections and when I came down I gave him a bit of a hug, it was very emotional.'
Although Sub-officer Jones' thoughts will always be with the victims in America he is glad to have his home comforts back.
Firemen had been hoisting his food and drink to him and he used a porta-potty as a toilet.
'It's good to have my feet back on the ground', he said. 'But it wasn't that bad, I got a bit of paper work done and I was in constant touch with the lads on the floor.
'I also got my head down for a couple of hours after the clubs had closed and the streets were quiet.'
A spokesman for Chester City Council said: 'We were astounded with the amount of money that was raised for this event, usually street collections raise a couple of thousand pounds.
'More than £20,000 is certainly more than anybody can remember.'