A FIREMAN who has juggled working full-time with fire fighting duties in and around Tavistock has been awarded with a long-service medal.

Keith Lake, who is based at Tavistock Fire Station, was presented with a medal for completing more than 20 years’ service at a ceremony at Devon and Somerset Fire & Rescue Service headquarters recently.

Keith, who is married with three children, first joined the fire service back in 1988, taken on by the late station officer Bernard Chammings, combining firefighting with working for Unigate in Tavistock.

He left the service in 1988 after taking a new job as an HGV driver which took him away from home regularly. Later, returning to work near home at Ambrosia in Lifton, he once again joined the retained crew at Tavistock Fire Station, his bug for firefighting still very much ablaze. In total, Keith has given more than 26 years’ service as a retained firefighter.

Tavistock station officer Glenn Arundel said: ‘Twenty-six years is a long time to be in the retained service, and Keith has always been a dedicated firefighter, dedicated to being on call as much as he can.

‘He works at Ambrosia in Lifton - everybody here has a full-time job - so he’s obviously had many a time when he’s had to leave home or cancel a social engagement at short notice. It is a big commitment, and a big commitment for his family too.’

Keith received his award at a ceremony at the Fire Service Headquarters in Exeter on September 14 which celebrated the achievements of fire service personnel from across the region.

His West Devon colleague Ian Donovan, who is based at Okehampton Fire Station, received a special award for 40 years’ service as a retained crew member at the ceremony.

Ian has been station manager at Okehampton for 34 years, and his overall boss is now his son John, who is also a firefighter and has joined the service full-time.

Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell said: ‘This is an important time in our Service calendar as we recognise service, professionalism and actions beyond the call of duty.

‘Myself, colleagues, families and friends are all immensely proud of those who have received the awards and we are also recognising the part family and friends play in supporting our staff.’