Journal Volume 3 2000
They Answered the Call (continued/4)
The outbreak of war and start of the 'Emergency' encouraged the people of Greystones to establish an A.R.P. scheme, and following a general meeting of the Branch in September, it was decided that classes in A.R.P. would be held, and the Greystones branch after contact with the Society's H.Q. was able to avail of the services of Robert Waters as chief instructor. The response was very large - 118 people signed on for classes, with the average attendance being 101.
Reference to what was happening in Greystones surfaced at a public meeting in Bray, where the Urban District Council, having decided to operate a voluntary scheme, and having appointed people to administer it, held a public meeting to recruit people for the various A.R.P. services on Thursday 28 September, 1939. One of the specially invited speakers at this meeting was Dr. G.P.G. Beckett, the Co. Wicklow Medical Officer for Health, who was also chairman of the Greystones branch of the St. John Ambulance Brigade. He made reference to the voluntary scheme that had been established in Greystones and its importance to the community there. In Bray too, the local branch of the St. John Ambulance Brigade was operating special first aid courses for volunteers, as all members of the A.R.P. services were required to hold a first aid certificate before they could enrol.
Uniquely, the St. John Ambulance Brigade was one of the few organisations to have prepared for the eventuality of war and so had trained A.R.P. instructors, training programmes and all the necessary skill and expertise to hold courses in A.R.P. and first aid.
Wicklow County Council, at their October 1939 meeting, decided to establish an A.R.P. scheme for the county, in line with their statutory requirement, but were less than pleased with the ' go it alone ' approach of Greystones. However, they did not interfere with the Greystones scheme. The Co. Wicklow Scheme, after many delays due to funding difficulties between the Wicklow County Council and the A.R.P. Branch of the Department of Defence, was not adopted until November 1941.
In September 1939 first aid classes resumed with 73 people joining, with Miss Jeffreys acting as class secretary. Dr. Mitchell was the surgeon instructor while Miss Lydia Figgis and Miss Murna Peacocke were the practical work instructors. In November 35 candidates presented themselves for examination - 33 passed. The low number going forward for examination was due to the fact that some of the class had already obtained first aid certificates.
In November 74 candidates from the Greystones A.R.P. classes presented themselves for examination - 63 passed.
In addition to these activities the Greystones branch also organised a ' Home Nursing ' course which was divided into 3 classes administered by Miss Olive McGee, Mrs C. Meldon and Mrs C. West, who acted as class secretaries. Classes were held in Mrs Meldon's house 'Beaconsfield ', Mrs W. Beer's house ' Glenart ' and Mrs West's house ' Mount Offally '. In November, 58 presented themselves for examination - 56 passed.