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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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Final call-out for West Cumbrian fireman Brian

After 38 years and up to 13,000 call-outs, Maryport firefighter Brian Bethwaite is leaving.

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LAST SHOUT: Brian Bethwaite, front left, with colleagues as he receives a certificate of thanks for his commitment to the fire service

Mr Bethwaite, 58, of Sycamore Road, joined the service on September 1, 1976, and will finish his last shift on Monday.

He works at Tata Steel in Workington but has always been on call.

He has attended some dramatic call-outs, including two major West Cumbria arson incidents.

He said: “One that sticks in my memory is the fire at St Michael’s Church in Workington because that was where my wife Margaret and I were married.”

Another was the fire at the 900-year-old Holme Cultram Abbey, near Silloth, in 2006.

Mr Bethwaite was also involved in fighting the fire that destroyed the Safeway supermarket in Workington in 2003.

Other notable incidents included the Carlisle floods in 2009 and, two years later, the West Cumbria floods.

He said: “Maryport’s fire service was involved in helping with the search for PC Bill Barker.

“You have to act quickly, which is sometimes difficult for your family, like the time I left Margaret standing in the fish and chip shop with no money when my pager went off.

“Then there was the story my daughters Emma and Jill like to tell about the day I arrived at the station, after a middle-of-the-night call-out, to discover I was wearing my wife’s furry slippers.”

Mr Bethwaite was presented with the Queen’s Medal for long service and good conduct and this week received a certificate of thanks, presented by locality manager Dave Edgar on behalf of the chief fire officer.

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