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Dover firefighter Roger Hadfield, who helpled in 1989 Deal bombing aftermath, retires after 33 years

By Sam Lennon

Firefighter Roger Hadfield has given his town a spectacular leaving gift on his retirement.

He has presented thousands of pounds in cheques to local causes.

A total £4,600 was given to 10 Dover groups while another £4,600 went to the Fire Fighters Charity.

Dover Fire Station, Dover. Cheque presentations. Bobby-Jo Biggs aged eight and Caitlyn Foster aged ten receive a cheque from Roger Hadfield.Picture: Tony Flashman (1413934)

The money, presented at Dover Fire Station on Saturday, April 7, came from the station's last Christmas street collections.

Firefighter Hadfield is leaving in May after 33 years with Kent Fire and Rescue, having started at Medway in September 1985.

He has been at Dover since January 1986.

Mr Hadfield, who leaves when he turned 60 in May, said: "It has been a worthwhile career and overall I would do it again."

Mr Hadfield, like his colleagues, has had to brave some of the most dangerous and harrowing situations.

Deal barracks bombing Location Royal Marine barracks, Deal, United Kingdom Target(s) Royal Marines School of Music Date September 22, 1989 08.27 (GMT) Deaths 11 Injured 21 Perpetrator(s) Provisional Irish Republican Army KM use only (1491939)

He was called out to the bombing of the Royal Marines School of Music in Deal on September 22, 1989, when 11 bandsmen were killed by the IRA.

He said: "It was horrific. We were crawling all over the rubble to see if we could get people out.

"There could have been a secondary device there but we didn't think about that.

"We were just trying to help who we could.

"It was also surreal because terrorism had not happened in our area before and now it was right on our doorstep."

He also attended the B&Q fire in 1995 when five colleagues were hospitalised.

He said: "We had all been on drill at the then Old Park Barracks when we had to go straight to that incident.

"Two firefighters ended up scalded because of the heat on the sweat they still had from the exercise."

The blaze was on the evening of November 16, 1995, at the then superstore in Charlton Green, Dover.

A flashover suddenly caused a fireball to engulf the building and a total five firefighters had to be taken to hospital.

The store, then only six years old, was destroyed but later rebuilt.

It is now replaced by the present Morrisons supermarket.

Mr Hadfield also attended the fire that wrecked St Paul's RC Church in Maison Dieu Road, Dover.

An arsonist, on October 23, 1987, set light to a disused confessional box and the flames spread rapidly, destroying the roof, organ and much of the interior.

Firefighters were called from all over Kent and water pumped from the River Dour was used to put out the flames.

A massive column of smoke was seen drifting across the town valley.

The bell tower was in danger of collapsing but Mr Hadfield and his colleagues saved that, the walls and stained glass windows.

The church could not re-open for another year and in the meantime clergy from other town Christian denoninations let St Paul's worshippers use their venues.

Mr Hadfield said: "Just the week before I had been dealing with the aftermath of the Great Storm. I was not on that night but I was on duty the next day and my colleagues and I had to clear debris such as trees."

The mass of beneficiaries from the Dover Fire Station collection..Picture: Tony Flashman (1413916)

Dover Sea Cadets and the Aspen Disability Swimming Group at Whitfield got the highest sums in the cheque presentations.

Each group got £800.

Six organisations got £400 each.

One was the Dover branch of Cherished Gowns UK, which provides funeral clothing for babies that are stillborn, miscarried or have died.

Three others were the Miss Dover Carnival Association, Dover Town Carnival and the Living Well Church in Whitfield.

The remaining two were the art organisations Dover smART Project and the drama group Blackfish Academy.

Getting £300 each were the South East Gulls FC disability footbll group and the 5th Dover Brownies.

For more cheque presentation pictures see next Wednesday's Dover and East Kent Mercuries.

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