Reginald Burgess passed away on 30 August 2018 aged 82.
A brief eulogy provided to me by his niece revealed that Reginald completed his National Service in the Royal Air Force before returning home to Ryde where he worked as a projectionist at the Theatre Royal and for the Ryde Borough Council.
By then his much-loved sister Maisie and brother-in-law David had both joined the Auxiliary Fire Service, compelling Reginald to take a similar direction. He was tested and joined Ryde Fire Station in early 196. Ironically, given his previous work, his first major fire call was to the Theatre Royal on 19 May, within weeks of joining.
His niece Beverley recalled how he remarked that the job was much harder than he'd imagine. Shortly after he suffered all firefighters greatest embarrassment, needing to call his own station to a fire involving his own house following a spell of paint stripping. Such was his commitment to the service, in which he always enjoyed the drills, that when a major blaze levelled the Dibbens store in Monkton Street in February 1986, he was at the fire when he was supposed to be fulfilling his role for the council - as he pulled away from the snowbound fire scene in his tractor he uttered to his firefighting colleagues 'you haven't seen me, I'm supposed to be cleaning the beach, so don't tell the boss' - and with that, having worked tirelessly all night at the fire he then continued to work all day on the beach.
For 15 years Reginald was the driver of the town's carnival queen float. He was well known for his love of animals. Dogs, horses and ten tropical fish tanks were among his personal favourites.
In her closing comment, his niece wrote - He loved to help people if he could, you only had to ask and would always visit or ring his sister every day of his life even if it was just to say hi.
Reginald Burgess was a much loved man and well respected fireman.
Rest in peace.