A DECOMMISSIONED fire engine from Cumbria is being donated to a region of The Gambia to help a local fire brigade save lives.

Cumbria County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service is donating the fire engine from Silloth, which has seen 20 years of service and is in working order.

Watch manager Willy Watson, based at Ulverston, has arranged for the fire engine to be shipped over to Kotu in West Africa.

Willy has secured additional donations, which included organising a charity garden party at his Coniston home, to meet the shipping costs.

The fire engine will be heading to the Senna Gambia region where it will replace an older and increasingly unreliable pump.

Willy organised the fire engine donation after visiting Kotu fire station while on holiday with his wife Lynne two years ago.

“It was hard not to be impressed by the amazing job the Gambian firefighters do, with such little resources and very basic equipment,” said Willy.

“I was introduced to the then area commissioner and she told me that any donations of equipment we could make would be gratefully accepted.”

Willy will be returning to the Gambia early next year and plans to give up time during his stay to train Kotu’s firefighters – a real ‘busman’s holiday’!

Steve Healey, Cumbria County Council’s chief fire officer, said: “The council’s fire and rescue service is pleased to have the opportunity to donate a redundant fire engine and firefighting equipment, knowing that a less fortunate fire service can use it to serve and protect their communities.

"These firefighting resources have a termed life of use, following which they have to be taken off the run. I would also like to thank Willy for his fund-raising efforts which have enabled the fire engine to be shipped to The Gambia at no expense to the county council. He has shown commendable community spirit which typifies our firefighters in Cumbria.”