A FORMER firefighter and councillor who received the Queens Gallantry medal for his work during an oil tanker disaster has died age 74.

Friends and colleagues have paid tribute to Mike George, who passed away peacefully at Withybush Hospital on Friday, May 3, after a short illness.

Mr George worked for the fire service from 1964 until his retirement 19 years ago as the senior divisional officer.

Joe Mayne, a former firefighter, who had been Mr George’s “lifelong friend” said he will be missed.

“I first met Mike when I was 11 years of age,” Mr Mayne said. “My kids have always called Mike uncle and his wife, Val, aunt.

“For 50 years the kids have always known him as uncle.”

Mr George was given a Queens Gallantry medal for his work during the Pointsman explosion.

The Pointsman oil tanker exploded on June 15, 1984, while the ship was undergoing repairs in the Milford Haven docks.

While firefighters attempted to board the ship to rescue the crew a second and third explosion went off.

Mr Mayne was knocked unconscious.

“When I came too after the explosion I couldn’t get out, his was the hand that was trying to pull me out.

“He was outside getting people on to the stretchers, that’s when the blast happened.

“He was burnt himself in the blast, he wouldn’t go to hospital and that’s why he got the medal.”

Mr George helped in most of the large disasters in and outside of Pembrokeshire including the Aberfan disaster and the Sea Empress.

“If there was a disaster in this area, then Mike was involved in it,” Mr Mayne said.

“Mike was always one of the first to put his hand up. He was dedicated, he always just felt he was just doing his job.”

Mr George was not only passionate about fighting fires but about fire service heritage, always visiting the fire station whenever he visited somewhere new.

“We were lifelong friends,” Mr Mayne added.

“I was over in Ireland when we got the telephone call, I had to come back straight away.

“It is nearly a week now since he passed - it’s very hard to say goodbye to someone you have known all your life.

“He was such a good friend.”

Eric Harries who was on the Milford Haven Town Council with Mike praised him as a gentleman.

“He was a hell of a man,” he said.

“I had the highest respect for him. He served his community as fire chief and as a councillor.

“He reached the pinnacle of a career and served his community well.

“He was a perfect gentleman, very placid and he could deal with difficult situations well.

“He was absolutely meticulous during his time on the council but he managed to maintain the common touch.”

The town clerk, Moira Galliford echoed Mr Harries’ comments.

“He was kind and thoughtful and very proud of coming from Hakin,” Ms Galliford said.

“I was very sad when he left the town council. He was a very kind man, with a good sense of humour, it’s a big loss.

“He was the best mayor we never had.”

Mr George’s funeral will take place at 11.00am on Thursday, May 16, at St Katharine and St Peter’s Church, Milford Haven.