When Sandown councillors heard of the facts of Hedley’s exemption and support he received from Chief Officer Dore, there was a ripple of unfettered rage and contempt across the chamber. Without consulting Dore, Sandown’s councillors voted to sack the ‘cowardly’ teenager from the brigade. When Dore learned of the decision the following day, he was equally outraged. Being undermined by his councillors Dore resigned from the service he had captained since 1880 on principle.
The councils appalling arrogance and handling of the matter left the once proud Sandown Fire Brigade in tatters, leaderless and without its one young fit and capable firefighter.
Hedley left the brigade but had been granted a Certificate of Exemption by the Military Tribunal. He continued to serve an apprenticeship as a bricklayer in his fathers’ firm, William Brown (Sandown) Ltd., and later shared his time as partner to a seafront business. Hedley was a keen football fan and took a great interest in the fortunes of Sandown F.C. in addition to regular trips to Fratton Park.
Finally, over twenty years later, Hedley achieved his wish to protect the town and continue his family’s long association with firefighting by volunteering with the Auxiliary Fire Service and continued to serve through the Second World War during some of the greatest trials that Isle of Wight firefighters have ever encountered.
In 1955, following the death of his elder brother Wilfred, who had served for decades with the brigade and as its admirable Chief Officer for many years, Hedley was elected to the same Council that had at one time besmirched his character and according to the local Press – discharged his duties with conscientious zeal – one wonders if the IW Chronicle correspondent used that phrase deliberately.
On Monday 27 May, the day before his sixtieth birthday, Hedley had been loading deck chairs into his car from his firm’s store at Avenue Road. A short while later a local resident found him slumped in his blue and white Ford Consul saloon. The attending doctor confirmed that he had passed away.
At the funeral, held at York Road Methodist Church, those attending heard Rev. R.C. Stonham pay tribute to Hedley’s sense of civic duty and that the large gathering reflected the great esteem in which he was held.
Rest in peace Fireman Brown.