Fire service money raiser recognised

AFTER devoting forty years of his life to raising cash for a fire service charity, a charitable Suffolk man has finally been recognised for his outstanding efforts.

AFTER devoting forty years of his life to raising cash for a fire service charity, a charitable Suffolk man has finally been recognised for his outstanding efforts.

During the last four decades, Gerry Fletcher has raised tens of thousands of pounds for the Fire Service Benevolent Fund, helping countless numbers of needy or retired fire service men and women.

And now, the 65-year-old's dedicated attitude has at last been officially recognised after he was presented with a special award at the fire service headquarters in Colchester Road, Ipswich, yesterday .

Mr Fletcher joined the fire service in 1962 after spending nine years in the army and, just six months later, volunteered to help out with the fund.

He said: "They asked us who was interested in helping out and I volunteered. Soon after, I became secretary of the fund and then a little while later, they asked me to become treasurer."

For the past 60 years, the fund has provided vital assistance to serving and retired fire personnel and their families.

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Mr Fletcher, from Ely Road, Ipswich, retired from the fire service in 1988, but kindly offered to remain on the fund's group council, where he continued to help raise money for the worthy cause until he finally collected his last penny, 18 months ago.

During his many years of tireless work for the benevolent fund, Mr Fletcher has been involved in various different charity drives, including organising football competitions, running the mobile benevolent shop at shows and fairs and collecting money on the street.

He said: "I used to go round on hospital visits which I really enjoyed. We would go along and see them and take a food parcel - we would try to pull their leg a bit too, to cheer them up a bit!

The lifetime achievement award came as a something of a surprise to Mr Fletcher, although he said that he was delighted to be selected.

He said: "I didn't even know my name had been put forward until November when I was told I would receive it.

"I'm really pleased - I want to say a big thank you to the council and Ken Seager for putting my name forward for this.

"I really miss being involved. When I used to go round to the stations, I found that a lot of people knew me, but I didn't know them!"

Deputy chief fire officer, Ken Seager said: "Forty years dedicated service is a huge achievement and one which Gerry should rightly be proud of.

"His work has provided help and support to countless fire-fighters and their families and I'm delighted that he has been chosen for this national award."

n. Do you know Gerry? What do you think of his fundraising efforts? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstar.co.uk

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