Fireman Colin Pidgeon moving at speed out of the doors of Grafton Street Fire Station during a drill competition.

Colin Edwin Pidgeon was known to me through his interest in aviation many years before it became apparent to me that one of his son's was a colleague of mine in the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service and that Colin himself had once been a firefighter. 

His loss was great and the words spoken at his funeral were delivered with a poignancy that only Geoff Pidgeon, his son and former Station Officer of Sandown Fire Station, could deliver the way he did. 

Accordingly I'm not going to attempt to write Colin's story, I'll leave that to Geoff's words, spoken by him at Colin's funeral on 17 April 2019, and I thank him for sharing these special words with me for this purpose.

 

Colin Edwin Pidgeon was born Monday, 1st April 1935, at Garmoyle Nursing Home, 14 Clarence Road, Shanklin. Second child to Thomas William Metheral and Florence May Pidgeon and brother to elder sister Joyce.

Dad had told me he was a beautiful baby and on 15th September 1937 he won 1st Prize in the All Island Baby Show Competition at Newport in 2-3 years class. The family lived around the corner from the nursing home at Milford in Wilton Park Road and later they moved to Mayfield, 23 St Paul's Crescent, Shanklin, which has Mum ran as a boarding house.

I recall him saying he remembered bombings and Doodle bugs over Shanklin in WW2. He also hated the summers because the boarding house would be full, so he had to sleep in the garden shed, however, meeting packed trains of tourists and carrying cases for a few pennies, made up for the temporary sleeping arrangements.

He was educated at Gatten and Lake Primary School (1940-46) before progressing to Sandown Grammar School (1946-51). At school he was a keen athlete and represented the Island on many occasions, as a sprinter and a member of the relay team. He was a founder member of the former Sandown Athletic Club and was Island Champion for 100 and 220 yards.

In 1948, at the age of 13, he joined the 1st Shanklin Company of the Boy's Brigade, a relationship which lasted for over 50 years, and he rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant before being called up.

On leaving school in 1951 he became an articled pupil with Gilbert and Hobson, who were Chartered Architects in Ventnor and trained under the late Leslie Russell. His pupillage completed in 1955, he was required to do his National Service for three years. He chose to be a Regular so that he could continue his trade as an Architectural Draughtsman in the Royal Engineers and he served his time in Preston, Lancashire and Tripoli, Libya, rising to the rank of Corporal. Apparently he made good money darning socks for other soldiers!

On his return in 1958 he secured a job in Fareham for Heathfield Builders Ltd. Estate Developers as an Architectural Draughtsman and Surveyor, please don't blame Dad for the state of Fareham, he was only there for two years.

The next 33 years saw him employed by the Isle of Wight Water Board, Newport Borough, Ventnor UDC, Sandown-Shanklin UDC, the Isle of Wight Council, David Holbrook Architects and Moss Motors in various jobs including Draughtsman, Engineering Assistant, Deputy Surveyor, Assistant Engineer, Architect and Booking Clerk. His time in the Surveyors Department of County Hall saw him design many road schemes that we drive through in our daily lives today.

Whilst working he continued his connection with the Boys Brigade for the next 40 years, with the 1st Lake, later to become the 1st Sandown and Lake and 1st Ventnor Company's, where he was Captain for seven years. He served as Vice-President and President of the Isle of Wight Battalion and served on the Southern District as Island Representative and Camp Visitation Organisation for 25 years. A lifelong Methodist, in his teens, he was asked by the late Reginald Kallis to join the Youth Fellowship Preaching Team with brothers Malcolm and Keith Dyer, he later became a preacher and did this for 64 years!

He also served as a Steward and Property Steward at Lake, along with being a Steward on the East Wight Circuit and Manses Steward. With work, Boys Brigade, and the church, you would think he would have had no time to anything else, but how wrong you would have been.

He played football for Lake United and Shanklin F.C. and he refereed too. He was in Sandown Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society from 1960-71. He was a retained Fireman at Sandown and Newport from 1971-85 and was a member of the famous 'Grafton Street Gang'.

He served on Lake Parish Council for 25 years from 1987-2003 being Chairman four times. He was on the committee of Sandown Meeting Point from 1980 until his passing. A keen supporter of the Isle of Wight Heart Club, he collected monies at The Heights until early this year. A very enthusiastic plane spotter with Henry and Julian, Isle of Wight Airport will not be quite the same now. He was also a member of Sandown Historical Society, He was a very active volunteer with Acting on Hearing Loss. He enjoyed singing as part of Newchurch Male Voice Choir as 1st Tenor and loved being part of 'The Crazy Gang'.

To be honest after doing all that I'm surprised that he had time for a family life but I am glad he did. He met Mum in the early 60's and married after a period of courting on 15th September 1962 at Lake Methodist Church. They were blessed with one wonderful son, and me. 

A wonderful head of the family, loving and caring, he directed me to where I am today, thanks Dad I owe you so much. Dad's aim in life was to be of help to others, I think he did that and more. This is how I would like you to remember Dad. 

Shortly after he died I was in the garden and was being observed by a Robin who had not visited before. The similarities between the two are numerous - small, round, pointed beak, red in colour and 'cherps' when he is happy. I have of course named him Colin, so every time you see a Robin, remember Colin is with you.

Colin passed away on 31st March 2019.

Rest in peace.