Plaque for St Neots family's 100 years' of service

A special plaque has gone up at St Neot’s fire station in recognition of a family of firefighters who have given more than 100 years combined service to their local community.

The plaque, donated by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service and the St Neots Local History Society, is in honour of brothers Mick and Merv Housden, both on-call firefighters based at St Neots, and their late father, Tony, who was a part-time messenger for the National Fire Service in Bedfordshire before moving to Cambridgeshire.

Mick, 57, has completed 40 years with CFRS; Merv another 36 with Tony adding a further 28 years. Tony also had a five-year stint with the Auxiliary Fire Service in Huntingdonshire, followed by time as an on-call firefighter at both Linton and St Neots – giving a grand total of 104 years’ service between them.

St Neots Local History Society awards the plaques in recognition of services to the local community.

Mick and Merv’s on-call colleagues gathered for a special ceremony to mark the plaque, which has gone up on the front of the station, on November 16.

The event had been organised as a surprise for Mick and Merv during the station’s regular Wednesday drill night.

Also present was St Neot’s mayor and mayoress Derek and Sandie Giles; representatives from the St Neots Local History Society and Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland. Mick and family, including mum, Beryl, wives, children and grandchildren were also present.

Presenting the two brothers with their plaque, CFO Strickland said: “It’s an amazing feat to commit such a long time to the community and fire service and probably one that won’t happen again in our lifetime.”

Beryl said her late husband would have been proud of the plaque.

Merv, 55, remembers having just passed his training as an on-call firefighter and getting his first call out within two hours, just as he was sitting down to dinner.

“My mum had to throw the dinner in the bin and was joking, ‘that’s another one straight in the bin!’”

Mick, who earlier this year was presented with an in-service statue to mark his 40 years with the fire service, said: “It has basically been a long, enjoyable time with the fire service with everything we have been involved in.”

Station Commander Scott Feveyear, said: “We have had family generations come through before but it is rare to see a family give over 100 years’ service.

“It’s an incredible and amazing achievement from one family. It’s the commitment that the family has to give as well, not just the fire firefighters, but family members too.

“As firefighters Mick and Merv are brilliant. They never let you down and remain fully enthusiastic with their commitment to the fire service and the local community. They are jovial, fun characters who are like father figures at the station because of all their knowledge and experience. They are like hands that glue the station together.”

Watch Commander Rob Robinson, who organised the plaque after getting in touch with the historical society, has worked with Mick and Merv for a long time, having been based at St Neots for 20 years.

“They are very experienced and knowledgeable. They are very good with our new starters, settling them into the station. They are very supportive and encouraging.”