On Wednesday, April 11, some visitors from England visited and exchanged gifts with the New Melle Firefighters. Gareth Murph, his wife Hannah, daughter Jessica, and their twin boys, Louis and Dylan, were in Missouri for a family wedding. Gareth is a cousin to Jennifer Benne, whose husband, Dan Benne, used to own Dan’s Country Meats in New Melle.
Dan was a volunteer firefighter and later served several years on the Fire Dept. Board of Directors. In those days, the New Melle Fire Department was all volunteer. If a call came for assistance during business hours, whether an actual fire or an accident on the roadways, employees from Dan’s Country Meats and other businesses in town dropped what they were doing, ran to the fire station, jumped into the trucks and responded.
Gareth is a professional firefighter in the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service. Berkshire is a county west of London, and it has 18 fire stations. Knowing Dan’s history of volunteerism with, and support of, the New Melle Fire Department, Gareth wanted to make a presentation to the New Melle Fire Dept. in Dan’s memory. He presented the New Melle Fire District with a plaque and a couple of shirts. In exchange, the New Melle Fire Department sent a NMFPD hat and shirts back to Berkshire with Gareth.
New Melle Fire Chief Rick Massey said it was a great visit. “It was really interesting to compare differences in trucks and equipment and how they run calls,” he said. “We spent a lot of time just talking about different things, like how they run their shifts, and how far some of their people traveled just to get to their job — Some of their employees actually fly to work, then fly back home.”
Rick said Gareth has been a firefighter for several years and is going into fire investigation, so they also talked about the educational requirements for that. “It was a very cool experience,” Rick said. “Very enjoyable.”
Jennifer said Gareth and his family also thoroughly enjoyed their visit, and Gareth was very excited to tell her all about it.
Jennifer thanked everyone at the New Melle Station for their hospitality, and extended special thanks to Mike and Charlene Loyd for helping to set up the visit and gift exchange, and for taking photos.