99lionelRetired Warwickshire firefighter Lionel Clarke has become the oldest man to receive a Defence Medal at 99 years of age.

Warks Fire & Rescue Service’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer presented Clarke with his medal last week [14 Feb] in rememberance of his service as an auxiliary firefighter at the Jaguar, Brown’s Lane Plant throughout World War II.

After awarded the veteran, DCFO Gary Phillips said: "I am honoured to be able to present Leading Fireman Lionel Clarke with the Defence medal for his part in the fight to win the war. To listen to his story and hear about the kind of fires he attended really is something to be remembered.

"I think that Lionel and his family can be very proud of his achievements and it is nice to be the person who can share the good news with him as he receives his long awaited award."

During his career, Lionel attended many fires, but the one that stands out is the night of the Coventry blitz, when as a Leading Fireman Lionel was called out with his crew to help clear up after the bombings.  On their way back from the job, the crew stopped to assist with the devastation caused by the bomb at Coventry Cathedral.  Working through the rubble, Lionel went inside the Cathedral and tried to help other firemen save the Cathedral from destruction.

However, Lionel did not receive a medal until his story was heard by Recreation and Leisure Coordinator at Acorn Lodge Care Home, Rosie Iliffe.  Rosie wrote to the Ministry of Defence informing them of Lionel’s actions and asked whether Lionel should have received a Defence Medal.

Rosie explained: "When I heard Lionel’s story, I was sure that his efforts should have been recognised. To be part of the fire crew who tried to save Coventry Cathedral at the time of the bombings is incredible.  So I am really pleased that Lionel has now received his long awaited Defence Medal."

Lionel said the medal came as a "complete surprise" but that he was extremely glad to have his "day in the sunshine" at long last.

Posted 18/02/2013 by richard.hook@pavpub.com