“Pud” bows out after 40 years on the brigade

Allan ‘Pud’ Fletcher has been honoured after 40 years of service with the Springfield Volunteer Fire Brigade. Georgia O’Connor-Harding reports

CELEBRATION: Firefighter Allan Pud Fletcher served at the Springfield Volunteer Fire Brigade for 40 years and officially retired in December.

The 79-year-old first joined the Fire Service in 1977 and remained in active service until December 31 when he officially retired.

Mr Fletcher, also known as ‘Pud’ Fletcher, first joined after his wife Jo was rushed to Christchurch Hospital when she collapsed from an asthma attack.

He said the Springfield community was “marvellous” to his wife while she remained in hospital for about a week with residents bringing items such as nightgowns, facecloths and towels to Jo.

He said Springfield School in particular did a lot for Jo, who was a former secretary at the school. The children sent bunches of flowers, basket of fruits and cards while the teachers travelled to visit her.

Mr Fletcher said he wanted to find a way to give back to the community. “I thought so hard – ‘what am I going to do, what am I going to do’, so I decided to join the fire brigade,” he said.

About 40 people attended a celebration at the Springfield Fire Station recently where Mr Fletcher was presented a blazer, fire jacket, shield and certificate in recognition of his work.

After working at the AA Vehicle Testing Christchurch centre in Hornby, he decided to retire last year and move with his wife to Geraldine.

Before working at the testing centre, Mr Fletcher had a job as a mechanic in Christchurch before he worked on the railways in Springfield.

Originally from New Brighton, England, Mr Fletcher moved to New Zealand in March 1971.

He said he and his wife are now taking it easy after they were involved in a car crash at the intersection of Winchester-Geraldine Rd and Coach Rd early last year.

Mr Fletcher said they were driving towards Winchester at 90km/h when the vehicle crashed into a campervan which was pulling out of Coach Rd.

The campervan rolled and landed on the passenger side, but Mr Fletcher said the two Germans inside were okay.

“It affected our lives quite badly. I lost some of my balance, affecting my nerve system. My wife ended up in hospital getting pneumonia and nearly died,” he said.

She developed severe pneumonia about five months after the accident. But Mr Fletcher said she fought back.

He said their Ford Falcon was a “write-off” and if it had been any smaller, he did not believe they would be here today.

“We are both very lucky,” he said.

In his time with the Fire Service, one of the largest fires Mr Fletcher attended was at Burnt Hill, Oxford, in the early 1980s.

He said they battled the blaze for two and a half days and it ended up near the Waimakariri Gorge bridge – travelling 1km every 2min.

Chief fire officer Grant Williams said Mr Fletcher was good value, entertaining and conscientious of other members in the brigade.