Fire service farewell to unseparable friends

Joseph Bulmer

FIREFIGHTERS past and present gathered at Barnstaple Fire Station to say farewell to two women with a unique working record in the service.

Sheila Wellings and Hazel Harrison started working at the fire station on the same day 23 years ago and on Thursday they retired together on the same day.

The women had already been friends for several years when they both applied for a job in the fire station office, unbeknown to each other.

“The first we knew was when we met each other on the steps of the fire station,” said Sheila. “We were already friends as our husbands served together in the RAF at Chivenor and even travelled to work together, but neither had said anything about us applying for a job at the fire station.”

It all worked out well as both were accepted. They started off time sharing two-and-a-half days each, but developed to fill several roles over the years, retiring as clerical officers.

Their joint departure was marked by a party and by a series of presentations – certificates from the service, gifts of a garden bench and carriage clock by colleagues, framed photographs, flowers, jewellery vouchers and a retirement cake.

Four former Divisional Commanders were among many firefighters and administrative staff who turned up to bid them a happy retirement.