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Special PC Smith “humbled” by Queen’s award

Special constable Peter Smith with his wife Stella receiving his long service award two years ago after more than 30 years with Northern Constabulary

SHETLAND’S local ambulance service manager Peter Smith has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours list for his volunteer work as a special constable.

The 55 year old Lerwick father of two received the Queen’s Police Medal for his 35 years “selfless dedication” with the police service.

He joins his father Bill and brother Ronnie who have both been honoured by the Queen.

Bill Smith received the British Empire Medal for his efforts to keep the islands’ communications working as a telephone engineer during the 1950s.

Ronnie was awarded an OBE three years ago for his services as general secretary of the Scottish teachers’ union EIS.

“He did better than I did,” quipped his brother, who joined the ambulance service in 1977 aged just 19 for the job security and became a special constable the following year.

Up until about five years ago the job was entirely unpaid, and initially involved patrolling the streets of Lerwick every Friday and Saturday night before extra training and duties were added on and diversified his role.

As a special he has been involved in what he calls “various bits of Shetland history”.

The Dan Air crash off Sumburgh in 1979 was one of the first incidents he was involved in, but there were others – the 1986 Chinook crash and the Braer disaster in 1993. Less tragic was the opening of the Sullom Voe oil terminal in 1981.

But his main responsibilities have been helping at big local events, notably the islands’ annual fire festivals.

“I’ve done goodness knows how many Lerwick Up Helly Aa’s, I’ve done Yell and Unst and Scalloway and my last shift was at the south mainland Up Helly Aa.”

The police service recognised Smith for his “selfless dedication”, often changing out of his paramedic uniform into a police uniform to carry on working as a volunteer.

“I have enjoyed my time as a special immensely,” he said, scoffing at the word “selfless”.

“I have met some tremendous people in the police service and the public and have very much enjoyed my time doing it.”

As for the medal, he says he feels humbled. “There was never any thought of anything like this, but I am very appreciative that people thought it was worth the effort of nominating me and I am very appreciative of the fact that I have received the award.”

It has been a while since he was out on a job as a special. He is still “on the books”, but says he thinks his days are numbered with the police. He is not as young as he used to be, he admits.

The ambulance service is another story though. “I think I have a wee bit of time left there!”

Area commander chief inspector Angus McInnes said Smith was “a worthy recipient” of the police medal. “I’m delighted for him, he totally deserves this award,” he said.

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