Hundreds mourn death of Internatonal Rescue founder

Willie McMartin

Willie McMartin

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Family and friends mourned the loss of a founder member of International Rescue who sadly died earlier this month.

Grangemouth’s Willie McMartin MBE spent most of his working life saving people as a firefighter and also helping victims of disasters all over the globe as part of the International Rescue Corps.

He died at the age of 63 in his home on February 1 after a long battle with cancer.

His funeral took place in the port town’s Zetland Parish Church last Thursday and hundreds of people attended to say goodbye to a man who thought of others first.

At Falkirk fire station the flag was flown at half-mast and the duty watch were on parade outside as the funeral cortège passed. Paramedics on duty also paraded outside the ambulance station and flashed blue lights as the procession passed.

Members of International Rescue Corps escorted Willie’s coffin to the crematorium in Camelon.

Willie joined the Scottish Fire Service when he was 17 and spent the next 37 years with the organisation, having risen to the rank of Sub Officer before retiring in 2005.

International Rescue Corps came into Willie’s life in the early 1980s and his experience from his years with the fire service was invaluable when he attended over 30 major incidents throughout the world, including earthquakes, floods, explosions, rail crashes and mud slides.

An International Rescue Corps spokesperson said: “He was a pillar of the central Scotland community and valued internationally for his rescue work knowledge and experience. His legacy lives on in the International Rescue Corps.”

Before retiring with ill health, Willie was the International Rescue Corps operational director and was instrumental in putting together the organisation, which at the time was the first of its kind with the ability to respond to any disaster anywhere in the world with in 24 hours.

The corps’ current operational director John Wilkinson said: “We are devastated at the news of Willie passing. He was completely dedicated to IRC and went above and beyond in his commitment.

“Despite being very ill he still found the strength to attend training weekends and offered his advice and expertise at every level. He will be very sorely missed by us all.

“The corps will not be the same without him.”

In recognition of his years of selfless work in the Fire and Rescue Service and International Rescue, Willie was awarded an MBE in 2000.

He leaves behind wife Annie, children Margaret and Wilma and grandchildren Rowan and Brodie.