LOCHGELLY firefighter David Kay has received an OBE for his work with The International Fire and Rescue Association.
Mr Kay (45), received his OBE from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace last week after being nominated in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours by Fife Fire and Rescue Service where he has worked for 17 years.
He said: “I am so proud to receive this award but it is actually for all of the IFRA members. IFRA is a charity made up of members who are passionate about helping others.
“It has sent out over 70 vehicles on 40 missions in 19 different countries around the world, and millions of pounds worth of equipment that can’t be used here but can still be used to save lives is now in use in countries that are desperate for help.”
Chief Fire Officer Neil McFarlane said: “David was nominated as we recognise all the hard work he has done for IFRA. He thoroughly deserves this honour.”
David helped start up the charity in February 2001 after helping an Edinburgh charity to deliver aid to an orphanage in Bosnia, by driving an ancient 17 ton truck.
He explained: “What awaited us at the station was not what I expected – to say I was shocked would be an understatement. They had just two appliances, which at 37 years old, were completely inadequate.
“Most of the staff had suffered war wounds and were not provided with any form of protective clothing.
“Despite these unimaginable conditions, the firefighters were still expected to run into burning buildings and drive through minefields, and they did so with ardent enthusiasm.”
David rallied friends and neighbours and formed a fundraising committee and by May 2002 he had raised enough funds to purchase an Isuzu Trooper which was fitted with equipment and driven to Kljuc.
Since then he has made many more visits and helped rally the support of hundreds of volunteers around the country, but he says it would not have been possible without the help and experience of former Fife firemaster Mike Bitcon, who he says “bullied” him into setting up the charity.
“This award is for everyone in IFRA who cares so much about helping others to look after themselves in the best possible way.
“We also help train all the emergency personnel in these countries to deal with situations in a safe manner.
“It is really fulfilling and we get a lot of satisfaction from it, although it can be very hard work at times.”