Long-serving firefighter Derek Ridgeway was presented with a commemorative plaque by Wellington Mayor Janet Lloyd at a special event at the Fire Station this week to mark the town’s recognition of his 36 years of service.
Members of the Town Council were present to acknowledge his individual contribution and also that of the station. Current Watch Manager John Sharland received an engraved plaque on behalf of his colleagues.
Derek Ridgeway retired from the service on January 9th this year, exactly 36 years since he became a firefighter. He served the last 18 years as Watch Manager.
In her tribute to him Janet Lloyd acknowledged the significant changes that the fire service has undergone since 1979. During that time the number of calls has doubled, the nature of emergencies has changed and now include water and animal rescue, chemical incidents and many more road traffic accidents. The Mayor said, “Having worked at Swallowfield for 7 years I am familiar with incidents involving spillages where the Fire Service has had to intervene to make it safe. The Fire Station here has 2 pumps – and 3 appliances based at Taunton are staffed by Wellington crews. The current refuse tip fire at Castle Cary is being attended by a crew from this station.”
To put Derek Ridgeway’s service into perspective she said, “In 36 years Wellington Fire Station received 9,400 calls; Derek was available for 8,500 of them. There were also 1,800 drill nights and he attended 1,750 of them. We at Wellington Town Council are very grateful to him for those 36 years of service.”