Thomas (100) lights up the town fire station

Former firefighter Thomas Hamilton, who recently turned 100, paid a visit to Portadown Fire Station last week, 45 years after he retired. He is pictured here with Firefighter Linda McKane.INPT32-211.

Former firefighter Thomas Hamilton, who recently turned 100, paid a visit to Portadown Fire Station last week, 45 years after he retired. He is pictured here with Firefighter Linda McKane.INPT32-211.

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Portadown Fire Station welcomed back a former firefighter last week - just weeks after his 100th birthday.

Thomas Hamilton returned to the station on Thursday evening along with his children, to revisit his old workplace and see how the station has evolved since he last worked there.

Originally from Glenanne, Thomas became a firefighter in 1943 when the fire service was known as the ‘Wartime National Fire Service’.

After completing his training in Belfast, Thomas transferred into the newly named ‘Southern Fire Authority’ in Portadown in December 1947, and went to tremendous lengths to carry out his duties.

“My father cycled from Glenanne to Portadown to get to work for fifteen years,” explained George Hamilton, Thomas’ son.

“When he started, he would work 24 hours on and 24 hours off. The firefighters stayed upstairs in the station, and there was a pole in the room.”

Thomas retired from firefighting in May 1970, as 55 was the compulsory age for retirement at the time.

“He finished working at the fire station on the Friday,” Thomas explained. “And started a job at the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Factory the following Monday.”

Thomas worked at the Goodyear Factory as their security and fire officer for 10 years, before retiring in 1980. He has been a dedicated member of Tullyallen Presbyterian Church, which recently held its own special 100th birthday party for the life-long member.

Having received a visit from Mayor Darryn Causby, celebrated his birthday with the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church - Dr Michael Barry - and laid the foundation stone for the new Tullyallen Church Hall, Thomas has had an incredibly busy start to his 100th year.

However, his grand return to Portadown Fire Station will perhaps be among his favourite celebrations, as he shared memories with the men and women who currently carry out the life-saving work that he did there for 23 years.

The current crew welcomed him as a guest of honour, showing George around the station and putting on a demonstration with their slightly more modern equipment and fire engines.

“They put on a fantastic show,” said George, who accompanied his father to the station, along with his sister Helen and brother Maurice.

“All of those people - none of them knew him, but they all treated him as though he was one of their own; as though they had all done their training together.”