My late father served on the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious during WWII and he always use the old adage, join the Navy and see the World. Well, I joined the REA and got to visit Arran. It’s a start, and this was a place I had never visited before!
I accepted an invitation to address the members of the Dundonald Historical Society, presenting a history of the Fire Brigade in the West of Scotland. This proved to be a rather successful evening with 20 members attending, despite there being live European football on the television! Little did I know that word would spread when, ten days later, a request was received from the secretary of Arran Antiquarians, asking if it were possible that their group could have a similar talk.
I accepted this invitation and due to scheduling had almost a year to prepare! But this would at least give me plenty time to arrange the necessary travel documents, visas, passport, etc!!!
I have been very fortunate to have been able to travel to many destinations around the world, having visited New Zealand, Australia, Dubai, Canada and Alaska. Arran would be the last stop on my “World Tour!”
Seriously, I was very pleased to be asked to speak to Arran Antiquarians and had a most enjoyable time doing so. The talk was held at Brodick Village Hall and was attended by around 60 members. I drove to Ardrossan where I parked my car and caught the 1230hrs sailing over to the Island. I was met on arrival and driven to the hall. All I had to take with me was my presentation on a memory stick.
A laptop, a projector and screen were all made available at the venue. The subject of my talk was “A History of Strathclyde Fire brigade from 1975 – 2005” although I did include man’s early dependence on fire, and the Romans’ use of Vigils as firefighters. I continued with the development of the world’s first municipal fire brigade in Edinburgh, pre and post-war fire brigades leading up to local government reorganisation in 1974, and coming right up-to-date with the Fire Scotland Act of 2005 and how this had brought about changes to the face of the Fire Service, leading to the birth of Strathclyde Fire & Rescue.
The presentation was well received and I enjoyed a very warm welcome from the group. The talk lasted about an hour and then time was available for questions and discussion over a cup of tea at the end. I received good feedback on the day, and since. Then it was back to the ferry for 1640hrs and back “overseas” to Ardrossan and home.
It was a very good, worthwhile day out and the sun shone for most of it. It has to be said that the initial enquiries came to Cumnock and Ardrossan before being passed to the REA for action. As always, we were pleased to help! One spin off that has come from this is that I managed to make contact with a veteran from the Cheapside Street fire, a retired fireman whom I have since been in touch with on a couple of occasions and whom I have exchanged information with as well as information about the Retired Employees Association. This is only one example of what REA volunteer members can get involved with. I find it interesting and enjoyable and the only commitment is that I do as little or as much as I wish depending on my time and on my availability.