There was standing room only yesterday (June 12) at the funeral of long-serving paramedic and firefighter Bruce Davy.
Bruce served for 44 years as a retained (on call) firefighter at Uckfield and more than 30 years as a paramedic with the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb), based mainly in Uckfield but often covering the county in his favourite response car.
The road was lined as the cortege made its way to St Philip’s Church, New Town, where the funeral was conducted by the Rev David Tutt.
The coffin, with both a fire and ambulance service helmets on top, was flanked by three Standards during the service.
Many mourners were in the uniforms of either SECAmb, East Sussex Fire and Rescue or Sussex Police.
After the cortege left his New Town home, it paused briefly at the old fire station in Keld Avenue, before making its way to St Philip’s.
After the service, the funeral procession was led from the church by a police motor-cyclist and an ambulance paramedic car, which had the word Bruce on its bonnet below the SECAmb logo. Following on were the immediate mourners and an ambulance and fire appliance.
The current fire station in Bell Farm Road was passed before the cortege made its way up the High Street to Snatts Road cemetery.
Bruce Charles Davy was born on July 16, 1956 in Vernon Road, Uckfield.
He went to St Philip’s Primary School and then on to Uckfield Secondary Modern School, now Uckfield College.
When younger he worked at the Buxted chicken processing factory.
He became a retained firefighter in May 1975, and a leading firefighter in 1990 before being promoted to Watch Commander.
During his service, Bruce was awarded 20 year, 30 year and 40 year long service and good conduct medals as well as the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals.
He represented the fire service at a Buckingham Palace garden party.
Bruce joined the ambulance service in 1983 and served to December 2018, when he retired due to ill health.
He received a 20 year long service and good conduct medal and also represented the ambulance service at a Buckingham Palace garden party.
Bruce’s first love and commitment was to his wife, Lesley, and to his family.
He lived in New Town and died after a long battle with lung cancer.
The sad loss of Bruce Davy will leave a huge hole in communities he served.
The Alma Arms
Bruce was taken to The Alma Arms in Framfield Road when he became 18 for a birthday drink. It was the beginning of a long association with the pub and the many friends he came to know.
The Alma’s tribute – a toy fire engine, with flashing blue lights, stood next to the hearse during the funeral. It is pictured below.
A special tribute from a close friend and firefighting colleague
UckfieldNews.com has worked with one of Bruce’s close friends and firefighting colleagues to produce this personal tribute, especially for this website.
Ian Ritchie was friends with Bruce for 40 years and served with him at Uckfield Fire Station for 36 years during which time they were Best Man to each other in 1985 and 1986.
Ian said: “I cannot believe that there is anyone out there who can have affected more lives in a positive way than Bruce”.
“Bruce set very high standards for himself and expected those working with him or under him to do the same.”
He was the first to “critique” his own performance following every incident to discover whether he could have done it better, quicker or more effectively.
“Bruce always maintained the highest of standards in his appearance,” said Ian.
“They were such high standards, in fact, that a few senior officers in the fire service, ‘employed’ him as a personal shoe shiner when they had need to impress.
“Bruce would iron his uniforms for both fire and ambulance often more than once, until they were acceptable for him to go on duty.”
Bruce was famed for his very shiny fire boots and immaculate uniforms but the perfect toe caps were achieved by buying his own Parade Gloss, as the service issue shoe polish wasn’t good enough for him.
“While most of us scrubbed our old yellow plastic leggings with Vim, Bruce insisted that Brasso was better at removing marks,” Ian recalled.
Highly flammable Brasso!
“While damping down at a barn fire one day, Bruce looked down to see his leggings alight, confirming that Vim was the correct choice.
“Not only was his personal appearance immaculate but his cars always gleamed, his hedges were the tidiest in town and his lawn was finely manicured.”
Ever the Professional
Following in the footsteps of his dad Bill, Bruce was the last of several father/son pairings to work together at Uckfield Fire Station.
As the RDS Watch Manager, people used to moan to Bruce about constantly doing basic drills on drill nights. Bruce’s stock answer was: “Well, you get them right and we’ll stop.”
“When attending road traffic collisions, fire crews were always pleased to see Bruce arrive on the ambulance; not only for his high-quality of casualty care but for the fact that he had an in-depth knowledge of fire service procedures meaning that we could work around each other with ease and confidence for the benefit of the casualties.
“Those who worked with Bruce were all aware of his “controversial” but well-known saying about how “well” the fire and ambulance jobs were going in these times of austerity.
“While being unprintable, those who knew him, know it and eventually, nearly everyone, certainly those on the frontline and many in management agreed with him,” said Ian.
“In losing Bruce, Uckfield Fire Station has lost their final ‘old school’ retained firefighter. Always available when not on the ambulance, with his family playing second fiddle to the service, to keep pumps on the run.
“Now starts a new era but believe me, those who served with him and the communities he served will miss him greatly.”
Some of the following material was included in our earlier report this week
Bruce Davy was diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago and having undergone treatment, including the removal of a lung, returned to work both as a paramedic and as Watch Manager of the Uckfield “On Call” (retained) fire section.
Sadly, ill health struck again and he took the decision to fully retire from SECamb last year.
Bruce began his career working in patient transport and, doubling up as a paramedic and retained fire fighter, often provided a unique perspective when attending an emergency call.
South East Coast Ambulance Service Regional Operations Manager James Pavey said: “Bruce was an extremely popular member of staff who will be very much missed by his many colleagues and friends.
“His ambulance and fire-fighting role saw him contribute immensely to the local community over many years.”
The chair of SECAmb, David Astley, paid tribute to Bruce Davy at a Board meeting of the organisation held on May 23, the day after Bruce died.
Mr Astley said Bruce was an esteemed and much respected colleague who had given distinguished service to SECAmb. He sent the condolences of the Board to the family and the wider ambulance community.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, Chief Fire and Rescue Officer, Dawn Whittaker said: “Not only was Bruce known for his practical “firemanship”, he was also a person with a very big heart.
“For example as well as serving the people of Uckfield and East Sussex in his professional capacity for the two emergency services, he also supported an aid convoy to Bosnia in 1999.
“His colleagues will remember him for his calm and professional approach at even the most challenging of incidents. His passion for the Service was clear for anyone to see as his face lit up when he talked about it.”
Earlier in his career, Bruce was part of a team of Uckfield firefighters who brought success in a national competition.
While Uckfield’s crews did well in competition drills, the retained staff were also regularly successful in the ‘Technical Knowledge’ quiz competition.
In 1985, having won the Brigade and area finals, the team went to London Fire Brigade HQ at Lambeth, for the district final where they finished a creditable third and only just missed out on a place in the national final.
Donations were made to any of Bruce’s chosen charities, The Firefighters Charity, The Ambulance Charity or St Wilfrid’s Hospice.
Donations can be sent, or given, to funeral director Richard Green, c/o 125 High Street, Uckfield, TN22 1RN. Cheques should be made payable to the charity of choice. The funeral director is also able to accept BACS transfers, please email details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bruce Davy: July 16, 1956 – May 22, 2019