Woman praises fire service following husband’s death

A RYE campaigner who fought to save a fire station from being downgraded lost her husband in a fire two months after winning the battle.

Now Margaret O’Neill has spoken out in praise of the fire service and the importance of maintaining the current levels of cover.

Her husband Willie, 68, died after a fire broke out at his Military Road home in January this year.

The tragedy was not treated as suspicious by police or fire fighters.

Margaret said: “In November 2012 I assisted with signatures for a petition to save The Ridge Fire Station.

“At that time I never thought I would be phoning for a fire engine myself two months later.

“The tragedy at my home made me realise how important it is to keep local fire stations in operation.

“I was so grateful to our local retained firemen, who were soon upon the scene, preventing the fire spreading further.

“This highlighted what a difference time can make in such a situation and the importance of the Ridge Fire Station remaining open for the people in that locality.

My children and I would like to thank the fire officers involved with the fire at my home and for the continuous support that family and friends have given us over the past months.

Also, we would like to thank everyone who kindly donated to The Fire Fighters Charity and The Rye Harbour Lifeboat in memory of my husband, Willie.”

The fire service had wanted to downgrade the Ridge station at Hastings to part time.

The plans sparked a huge protest as the Ridge provided a front line service for communities at Pett, Guestling, Fairlight and Icklesham as well as providing important back-up to the Rye station for major incidents such as the chemical spillage at Rye Harbour.

The plans were scrapped following the protest.