Cycling Mad! Fire Fighters Powered by Watercress Power Balls


Cycling Mad!  Fire Fighters Powered by Watercress Power Balls

Two charity cyclists from Southampton Airport Fire Crew, Leanne Watters & John Foskett stopped off at Drayton Farm, near Alresford, Hampshire yesterday, to take delivery of the first of their supplies of Watercress Power Balls from James Harper, Commercial Manager of The Watercress Company.

A total of five members of Southampton Airport’s Firefighting team are joining forces to raise in excess of £3k for the airport’s chosen charity, the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance by riding 655 miles in six days, starting on June 24.  The ride will go from Aberdeen Airport, taking in Glasgow Airport (the third airport in the group) and Thruxton Aerodrome, home of the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance before arriving back home at Southampton Airport no doubt saddle sore but triumphant on 29 June!

To help power the riders, The Watercress Company with farms in Hampshire and Dorset offered to provide them with handmade Watercress Power Balls to fuel every stage of the ride. 

Grown in flowing spring water that bubbles up from aquifers deep under the chalky South Downs, Watercress is a nutritional powerhouse containing over 50 vital minerals and vitamins.  Gram for gram it provides more calcium than milk, more Vitamin C than Orange, more folate than a banana and more Vitamin E than broccoli.  Added to that watercress is high in fibre and rich in iron.  However, watercress has also been scientifically proven to protect against the DNA damage caused by high-intensity exercise and it aids the body’s recovery afterwards.

James Harper explains: “When we heard about what the team are intending to do, we wanted to help them achieve their goal.   The Watercress Power Balls are made using a whole host of healthy ingredients but the watercress in them will definitely help the riders to re-energise each night and be ready and able to get back in the saddle next day.  We are delivering a supply of Power Balls to each hotel on their route so that they will be available to help fuel the next stage.”

The challenge has been a long time in the making. It was back in October 2018 John Foskett, Station Manager uttered aloud the words ‘why don’t we challenge ourselves to raise money for a worthy cause’ while talking to the Green Watch in Southampton Airport Fire Station.  The idea for the cycle ride swiftly followed.  What he was not expecting was the willingness of others to get involved given the not inconsiderable distance to be covered.  John advertised the challenge and to his astonishment seven members of the fire service team volunteered either as cyclists or as support crew.

All the individuals taking part are keen cyclists, but none have been involved in a challenge of this magnitude.  To prepare, the team has had a number of group rides of distances between 50 and 100 miles but to undertakes 6 successive days of over 100 miles each will be a challenge, as John confesses.

He said: “We have a huge challenge ahead and are delighted to be receiving Watercress Power Balls to keep us going.  These will be a vital source of energy for us along the 655-mile ride and will be a welcome treat!”

James concludes: “We wish the riders every success and hope that we have helped in some small way.  The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance is such an important service for all of us living in the area and we hope the cyclists raise a substantial sum of money for them.”

To support the charity ride, or donate, visit

To make your own Watercress Power Balls, follow the recipe below but if you’d like more recipe inspiration or to find out about the many health benefits of watercress, visit  

The Watercress Company is also encouraging people to sign up to their  ‪#‎watercresschallenge to share the different, varied and delicious ways that watercress can be used to liven up a healthy diet.  Why not sign up and give it a go?


Watercress Power Balls

Preparation: 20 Cooking: 0 Serves:  6


  • 20g watercress
  • 30g pumpkin seeds
  • 40g Medjool dates
  • 25g whole hazelnuts
  • 10g puffed brown rice
  • Pinch of ground turmeric
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 tsp cacao powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Manuka honey
  • 5g chia seeds
  • Juice of ½ an orange


Pick the watercress leaves off the stalks and finely chop.

Place the pumpkin seeds in a food processor and blend until chopped to a crumb-like consistency. Reserve half of the pumpkin seeds on a plate and add the rest back to the blender.

Add all other ingredients to the blender. Blend on full power until everything is thoroughly combined and the mixture has come together, which may take a few minutes.

Divide into 12 balls and roll in the ground pumpkin seeds to coat.

The balls can be kept for 3-5 days in a refrigerated airtight container.