City blitz heroine Margaret gets award for wartime bravery and dedication

From the left are Chief Fire Officer Neil Odin, Margaret Aldridge, Yvonne Ferguson, daughter of Margaret, and Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Ken Ellcome Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180086_010)

A HEROINE who fought to save the city from ruin during the Second World War has been honoured for her bravery and dedication.

Margaret Aldridge, 94, was part of the Portsmouth Fire Service throughout the war, serving as one of the drivers in the city.

Yesterday at the OAP show at Portsmouth Guildhall, which is hosted annually by Hampshire Fire and Rescue, Margaret received an award for her years devoted to the service.

She said: ‘It has been a really lovely day and I am glad to have spent it with my family. It was a real surprise to be told that I was getting an award.’

Margaret recalled her role during the Second World War as being non-stop, saying that most of the city was almost unrecognisable.

She said: ‘I was a chauffeur, so to speak.

‘We drove the firefighters there and would then bring the canteens out to the firefighters.

‘It was awful during the Blitz, absolutely awful.

‘You wouldn’t know where you were going half the time because everywhere was blocked up with tanks for water, shelters and rubble.

‘I couldn’t count how many times we were called out each day.

‘I remember when the Guildhall burned down – the incendiary bombs hit and it caught fire.

‘But we didn’t have any water, so even though the fire station was right across from the Guildhall, all we could do was sit there and watch it burn down.

‘We were very lucky the bombs didn’t hit us, really.’

Retired firefighter Jasper Taylor was one of those who invited Margaret to the OAP Show.

He said: ‘There are nearly 400 people here from sheltered accommodation or worthy causes.

‘This is the 37th year of the event and it is a pleasure to have Margaret and her family joining us for the day.

‘The mayor presented a medal of service to her, which is fantastic.

‘This came about because a member of the family got in touch with us. We thought we would invite her along and when it transpired she was an old firefighter we decided that she should be given an award for her dedication during the Second World War.

‘People like Margaret are true local heroes – and it is great that her service has been recognised.

‘It is a lovely thing for her and the whole event has put a smile on everyone’s faces.’

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