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Fire medal from over 60 years ago presented to Wick museum


By Alan Hendry

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Wick Society vice-chairman Raymond Hill (second from left) receiving Jimmy Dunne’s medal from David Anderson (left), Bruce Simpson and Mervyn Hill (right). Picture: Alan Hendry
Wick Society vice-chairman Raymond Hill (second from left) receiving Jimmy Dunne’s medal from David Anderson (left), Bruce Simpson and Mervyn Hill (right). Picture: Alan Hendry

A medal awarded more than 60 years ago to a long-serving firefighter has been handed over to Wick Heritage Museum.

The National Fire Service Long Service and Good Conduct Medal was presented to Jimmy Dunne in 1961 to mark his first 22 years of service.

Jimmy, who was also treasurer of Wick Town Council, was a member of the fire brigade for more than 30 years and his medal had been kept in the local station following his death in 2001.

Retired firefighter Mervyn Hill, who himself served for around 36 years, researched Jimmy’s background and arranged for the medal to go to the museum in Bank Row where it can be put on display for the public to see.

In handing it over this week, Mervyn was joined by retired Wick station officer Bruce Simpson and current firefighter David Anderson. Mervyn, Bruce and David all have long service and good conduct medals of their own.

“We’ve all got folk we can hand our medals down to,” Mervyn explained. “Jimmy had no family.

“The medal has been in the fire station since he died, but we think more folk would get an opportunity to look at it here in the museum.”

Since 1969, when the present Wick fire station opened in Martha Terrace, more than 20 long service medals have been awarded.

James O’Rourke Dunne, better known as Jimmy, was born in Bridgeton, Glasgow, in April 1908 and was married in Wick to Annie Wares in 1933. He joined the town’s fire brigade in 1939.

Jimmy was awarded the medal in April 1961 at the rank of sub-officer in the Wick station. He received it at a social evening in the town’s Nethercliffe Hotel from James D McNicol of Inverness, who commanded the Northern Area Fire Brigade.

Mervyn and his wife Helen are the present owners of the Nethercliffe.

“Jimmy served 31 years in Wick,” Mervyn said. “He joined in 1939 and left in 1970, and in the last eight months he was station officer.

“Jimmy kind of oversaw the new station when it was built – he was the station officer when it opened.”

A plumber by trade, Jimmy was town council treasurer and also served as a bailie. He was a trade union stalwart and received an award in 1986 to mark his lifetime involvement in the movement.

A close-up of the National Fire Service Long Service and Good Conduct Medal presented to Jimmy Dunne in 1961. Picture: Alan Hendry
A close-up of the National Fire Service Long Service and Good Conduct Medal presented to Jimmy Dunne in 1961. Picture: Alan Hendry

He died in Seaview House care home in October 2001.

Mervyn added: “I’d like to thank Valerie Amin, Ann Mackay and Jennifer Ross at Nucleus. They were very helpful to us in getting the old Groats for us to look through.”

Meanwhile, Wick Heritage Museum has extended its opening hours to include Sundays until the end of August. Sunday opening times are 11am to 3pm.

Raymond Hill, vice-chairman of the Wick Society, the voluntary group that runs the museum, said: “The feeling is there’s a number of people wandering around the town on a Sunday with nothing to do, so we’re going to give them an option if they want to come in.”

A close-up of the National Fire Service Long Service and Good Conduct Medal presented to Jimmy Dunne in 1961. Picture: Alan Hendry
A close-up of the National Fire Service Long Service and Good Conduct Medal presented to Jimmy Dunne in 1961. Picture: Alan Hendry

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