Islay firefighter Donald makes history

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Islay airport firefighter Donald MacGill has helped make history … at just 18.

As well as being the youngest firefighter to be employed by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited, he also marshalled in Islay’s first flight from Edinburgh.

On days off from the airport, Donald is up and out at 7am to help his grandfather on the family’s farms and croft.

Until he joined the fire service full-time at the end of January, he had never stayed away from home before.

He spent three weeks training in Inverness and since then has been on other courses in Fort William and Oban getting hands-on experience with breathing apparatus and learning health and safety skills.

Donald is also about to sit his HGV test so he will be able to drive fire engines on call-outs, although working on farms means he already has his tractor and trailer licence, giving him a head start.

Mum Jacqueline said: ‘He’s a wee grafter. We’re all very proud of him.’

Donald joined the fire cadets and after leaving Islay High School had followed his farming passion.

He has also worked as a lifeguard at Mactaggart Leisure Centre in Bowmore.

Donald said: ‘We’ve just started a new rota, four days on and four days off. When I’m not at the airport, I’m working on the farm. Both jobs are just as important to me. Marshalling in the first flight from Edinburgh with a dozen or so passengers aboard was quite an honour.’

Islay station manager Niall Colthart said: ‘Donald has done well in the few short months since he joined the Highlands and Islands Airports fire service. He is keen to learn and is set to gain his qualification to drive the station fire appliance. We hope he will progress in the service and enjoy a successful career.’