Fireman Percy Neil Collins passed away on 24 November 1942 aged 58.

 

Percy was born in Portsmouth on 15 October 1884. His father James was a sailor in the Royal Navy and his mother Amelia originated from Bembridge.

By the time of the 1911 Census James had retired from the Navy and the family were living at 7 Mount Street, Ryde. Although Percy would have been of age to serve in the First World War no record has been located to confirm whether he did or not. It is known that for many years he was employed by Ryde Fire Brigade's Captain Sapsworth at his cycle and motor business in St Thomas's Square but Sapsworth departed the Island shortly before the war.

Whether or not Sapsworth's established business closed or remained operating isn't known but Percy continued working as a cycle and motor mechanic and remained doing so at the time the 1939 Register was taken on 29 September that year. This record also shows that he was married to Emma who worked for the British Red Cross Blood Donor unit. 

By then he had been an auxiliary fireman for almost a year, having been listed among the first batch of volunteers to sign up and attend their first training session with Chief Officer Heller on 3 October 1938. Percy would have recruited just a few days short of his 54th birthday and is therefore in the photograph below, taken in the garden of the London Hotel although sadly we can't be sure which one he is. 

 

3 October 1938, The London Hotel, Ryde; the first batch of AFS volunteers.

Percy continued to serve throughout the existence of the AFS and remained in service as  a part-time member when the National Fire Service was formed in August 1941. At some stage Percy and Emma moved to 76 Church Street.

Six weeks before his death Percy had been unwell but had returned to work the day before passing away. On that Tuesday evening he visited the Paxton Social Club, Church Street, Swanmore, where he was Honorary Secretary, and after winning a game of billiards was sat watching another when he suddenly collapsed and passed away quickly.

 

Rest in peace Fireman Collins.