Kenilworth firefighter to meet the Queen after 38-year career in the town

Malcolm Gunter with his letter from chief fire officer Andy Hickmott about his invitation to the Queen's Garden Party.
Malcolm Gunter with his letter from chief fire officer Andy Hickmott about his invitation to the Queen's Garden Party.

A long-serving Kenilworth firefighter has been recognised for his 38-year commitment by being invited to Buckingham Palace to the Queen’s Garden Party.

Malcolm Gunter, 57, of Leyes Lane, said he was ‘in shock’ to receive a letter inviting him to the palace last week.

He was nominated by chief fire officer of Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service Andy Hickmott, who chose Malcolm because he was the longest-serving retained firefighter still in operational service.

Malcolm said: “It was a shock because these kind of things don’t happen. If you do 20 years you get a medal, but then you don’t get anything after that.

“I’m proud to go and represent the brigade and retained firefighters in general by going there.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Malcolm started as a retained firefighter in Kenilworth in 1979, when the old station at Upper Rosemary Hill was still operational.

Once the station in School Lane opened a year later, Malcolm became a retained firefighter there and has stayed there ever since.

And Malcolm has tackled a wide variety of fires and other emergencies during his time there, from dealing with children who were struck by lightning in Abbey Fields to a huge factory fire in Clarendon Road.

One of his more recent jobs was the train which caught fire outside the Kenilworth Station building site in December 2016.

Retained firefighters have full-time jobs, and during their downtime are on call in case they are needed in an emergency.

Once the ‘beeper’ which they carry goes off, they have just five minutes to get to the station.

Malcolm puts down his longevity to the quality of training firefighters like him receive and his love for the job.

He added: “The training we get is really good. Every year I think ‘I’m going to quit’, but I don’t because our training equips me to be a better firefighter.

“The other reason I do it is because I love the job - I love everything about it.”

Malcolm wished to thank his first sub-officer Ian Harris, now deceased, who gave him the opportunity to start as a retained firefighter.

He said: “Without Ian I wouldn’t be working at the Kenilworth fire station now - I applied all those years ago and he gave me a chance.”

Malcolm will head to Buckingham Palace in May. The parties allow people who have made a positive impact in their community to meet the Queen and other royals.