Green Goddess’s are GO!
During the summer of 2005 Operation Florian was invited to a meeting at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and was offered an opportunity to accept a donation of fully equipped Green Goddess fire appliances and associated equipment. We were one of four charitable organisations that were to benefit from the ODPM emptying its major store in Marchington, Staffordshire.
At that time Florian had no planned projects however following discussions amongst the Trustees the Charity agreed to consider donating these vehicles to countries in need.
The vehicles arrived in Lincolnshire and were stored temporarily at Prince William of Gloucester barracks Grantham, until we got agreement to house them at RAF Scampton, under cover.
With the help of Colin Cunliffe, a retired officer from Lancashire we donated a number of vehicles to South American countries of Paraguay (6 vehicles) Panama (2 vehicles), Uruguay (4 vehicles). In addition we approached Filip Mostrakol, Fire Commander of Podgorica, Republic of Montenegro (also our Operation Florian rep in Montenegro) and also to the United Nations Interim Mission in Kosovo (UNIMiK). Kosovo have indicated that they wanted 10, and Filip as many as we could organise. We also lost (how remiss of us!!) 6 Green Goddesses on the road transfer from Grantham to Scampton, two caught fire and the remainder suffered seized engines.
In March 2006 we agreed with Filip to send him 60 Green Goddesses and though his government’s generosity he agreed to fund the delivery of the vehicles via ship from the UK to Montenegro, all that remained was to organise a suitable vessel.
On Wednesday 26th Filip advised us that the vessel would arrive in the UK at Hull docks on Sunday 30th. This as usual meant all hands to the pump to organise everything including the additional 15 green goddesses to supplement the 45 that were at Scampton. As usual the Florian machine kicked in and 21 volunteers duly arrived at Scampton to drive the vehicles the 50 miles journey to Hull Docks. Of course this is not just a simple task it also required mechanics at Scampton and with each convoy to both start the vehicles and to cover any breakdowns. Our thanks go to Steve Meadows (Colas) and Mick Eldred who covered the heavy rescue role, and to Lindums, the new fleet maintainers in Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue (for Asset Co) for their active support in getting the vehicles readied for the journey. Also thanks to Dave Hopkins for organising the volunteers, to Andy Williams who spent all day on a forklift transferring pallets of equipment from 4 trailers so they could be put on the Green Goddesses and a trailer to be delivered to Montenegro on the same ship. Many of the volunteer drivers came from Grantham College and without their assistance and other family and friends as well as Florian members we could not have achieved the timely delivery of the vehicles to the docks, especially on a Bank Holiday weekend. Thanks must go also to ODPM who pulled out the stops to meet the delivery schedule and got the additional 15 GG’s plus four trailers of spares to Hull in plenty of time.
Filip came over to the UK to oversee the transfer and even drove the vehicles himself in two of the 4 convoys. All of the vehicles made it to Hull with only minor problems easily overcome by the mechanics. It was a sight that caused a stir amongst the public in Lincolnshire especially as they crossed the Humber Bridge in convoy. Our thanks to the bridge authorities who reduced the fee for crossing the river.
It is a great credit to everyone who worked hard on Saturday to get the vehicles to Hull (and to the firefighters at Scampton who helped clear up the hangars) – all were safely in the docks by 10 pm.
All 60 green goddesses were at parked at the Steel Dock overnight and loaded on the MV Kaduna on Sunday setting sail for Montenegro at 1500 hrs that afternoon. Filip and a colleague from Montenegro made a presentation of a picture to Dave Hopkins on behalf of the Charity, to show the close relationship between the UK and his country.
Another successful Operation Florian mission completed.