LLANDEILO retained firefighters past and present enjoyed a well-deserved pat on the back from more than 50 members of the community for working so gallantly over the years.

Residents Barry Cope and Eric Bishop, over a pint in the pub, came-up with the idea to thank and recognise the firefighters for all their efforts in protecting the lives and properties of the citizens of East Carmarthenshire.

“Eric and I were just chatting one evening, as friends do, about how hard a job firefighting must be, especially in an area where everybody knows everybody,” said Barry.

“I can’t imagine how they must feel when they are called to an incident where they may know someone who has been injured – it’s hard to comprehend how much of a difficult job they have.

“But that said, they do it because they are an amazing bunch of people who work selflessly and tirelessly to keep this community safe day in, day out.”

Following Barry and Eric’s chat in the pub the pair began to organise a collection with the initial idea of raising enough money to buy the retained firefighters a wellearned drink – or possibly two.

“This wasn’t a fundraising exercise,” said Barry.

“But the more and more people we told about our plan to, the more and more people wanted to donate, so in the end we had collected quite a sizeable amount of money – with large donations from Evans Evans Brewery and The Cottage Inn – those guys really do deserve a big thank you.”

With the fund Barry and Eric had a slate plaque made in honour of all retained firefighters old and new with the inscription “Presented to the retained firefighters of Llandeilo, past and present, by the people of Llandeilo in appreciation for all their efforts over the years in safeguarding our lives and property. Diolch yn fawr, wrthom nii gyd, March 12, 2015”.

Currently the Llandeilo fire station is undergoing a £200,000 revamp, a far cry from the days when there was no fire station and the only equipment they had was a 40-foot ladder, which was wheeled to incidents on a handcart.

But it was not all doom and gloom, equipment did improve, albeit ever so slightly, and the firefighters were presented with their first bona fide fire hose – one 120 gallon per minute Berresford Stork Trailer Pump, which was towed to incidents by Sub Officer ET Thomas’ milk van.

And for the first time a fire station was homed at Llandeilo market – with the added bonus of ten firewomen who worked in the office and the canteen.

All firefighters were summoned to duty by an air raid siren on the roof of the old market – a practice which continued until the station, in between a move to Hoely-Garreg-Las and back, had a purpose-built station on Carmarthen Road.

“We are currently in the process of having some major works done at the station, which should take three months to complete,” said Station Commander, Ozy Jones.

“And the plaque the boys had made for us will sit proudly outside the station wall.

“I know I speak for everyone at the station when I say how proud we all are for being thought of in this way.

“And we are delighted to have received such a heartfelt gesture.”

In addition to the plaque the remaining funds were donated to the Firefighters Benevolent Fund, which supports local families and charities in the area.

However further donations can be made to the Llandeilo fire station