Fireman William 'Bill' Herbert Odell Woolcock passed away on 12 January 1992 at the age of 60.

Bill was born in Newport on 1 June 1931 and as a child contracted tuberculosis which in the years to come, due to lung damage, was to prevent him from achieving his dream to be a Royal Air Force pilot.

He apprenticed to W. Bullock and Son., as a stonemason, bricklayer and thatcher but by then his passion for aviation had compelled him to volunteer for the wartime Observer Corps at the age of 14 in addition to being involved with the construction of PLUTO. 

Post-war he joined the Isle of Wight County Fire Brigade in 1950, initially serving at Newport and then moving to Sandown in 1955. By then he had married Josephine Downer in 1953 and no doubt in part due to his wife's blindness he spent many years volunteering at the club of the I.W. Society for the Blind.

He and Josephine were to raise a happy family beginning with Carolyne in 1954, then Christopher in 1959 and Stephen in 1962. Two years later the family relocated to Shanklin where Bill began working for A.E. Carpenter and Sons., and again he transferred within the Brigade to serve at the town's fire station.

Extract from the County Press of 9 June 1966

Bill was among the firemen from Shanklin, Sandown and Newport called to the Baveno Hotel, Hope Road, Shanklin, at 01:45 on the morning of Saturday 2 June 1966. The fire, which destroyed the roof and top floor, was one of devastating proportions and for Bill was a time of great concern. Bill was engaged at the front of the firefighting when a gas appliance exploded leaving him with facial burns and loss of sight; fortunately this proved temporary. 

In the following March he volunteered to assist with the operation to mitigate the disaster of the 60,000 tonne SS Torrey Canyon, wrecked on the Seven Stones Reef between the coast of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The stricken oil laden vessel was eventually, under the orders of Prime Minister Harold Wilson, bombed to destruction by the Royal Air Force in order to set fire to and burn off the threatening slick under controlled conditions. The blasted remains of the Torrey Canyon, at the time the largest wrecked vessel in history, remains 30 metres below the surface. For Bill contact with the events added to lung damage through protracted smoke inhalation. 

SS Torrey Canyon, breaking up on the Seven Stones Reef

Bill remained in service with the County Fire Brigade, assisting with the restoration of Sandown Fire Station's original brass bell in 1979 before leaving both the brigade and the Island to move to Dorset in 1980. In Dorset he worked for the Portland Heritage Trust as contracts manager during the restoration of a Victorian Grade II listed school building founded in 1857. This lasted for three years after which he was employed as Site Manager of the Winfrith Atomic Energy Establishment.

Winfrith Atomic Energy Establishment, Dorset

Bill's work at Winfrith came to end and he suffered a heart attack in 1987. 

Finally in 1992 he suffered a brain aneurysm and passed away at Dorchester County Hospital on 12 January aged 60.

Bill's life had been one of service on many fronts, many of them voluntary in nature.

Rest in peace Fireman Woolcock.