Huge show of force for Manea firefighters

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THE village of Manea came out in force on Saturday to support its fire station and the gala committee is standing by its promise to donate some of the gala proceeds to the cause.

Residents showed how strongly they feel over threats to close the station by attending the annual village event in their thousands.

Firefighter Tony Burton said: “The response and support from the public was fantastic and overwhelming. Everybody made a point of coming out.

“Normally we have the children climbing all over the fire engine at the gala, but this year there were more adults coming over. It was very humbling.”

The campaigners were pleased to add around 150 signatures to a petition, bringing the total to around 1,000.

A recruitment drive at the gala was also successful. Eight people requested application packs and four potential recruits who were already in the system when the recruitment ban was introduced are still keen to join the service.

Representatives from the Retained Firefighters Union (RFU) and Fire Brigades Union (FBU) went along. Fire Authority member Fred Yeulett also visited and spent some time with the firefighters, discussing the situation.

“They were amazed at how much support we have,” Tony said. “Hopefully Mr Yeulett went away with a better understanding of how closing our station would really affect the Fenland community.”

A piece of Manea fire station history made its usual gala performance. Tilly, the 1834 fire engine, was pushed around the field by firefighters. Tony said they were hoping to give a demonstration, but due to technical problems, the engine would not pump water.

The campaign was also helped by the St John Ambulance crew who provided medical cover for the gala. The crew had a donation of £150 from the gala committee for their services and they handed half of it over to the campaign to show their support.

The firefighters expressed their gratitude to all in the local community, the St John Ambulance crew, the gala committee and everyone who has pledged their support to the campaign.

Paul Fox, chairman of the gala committee, said the committee was pleased to use this year’s gala as a platform to highlight concerns for the village fire service.

He said: “The gala has committed its support in every way, shape and form.”

And he added the committee’s pledge to use some of the gala proceeds for training purposes still stands.

Last week, Fenland councillors added their weight to the Manea station campaign when they put their concerns to Cambs Chief Fire Officer, Graham Stagg.

• See page 3 for Fenland Council’s call for assurances.