Mexborough and Swinton Times October 18, 1947
Long Service as “Special”
Presentation at Conisbrough
In appreciation of his 31 years as a Special Constable, in the Conisbrough Section of the Special Constabulary, Mr. H. Downing, of Castle Grove. Conisbrough, was presented with a walking stick, a gift from his colleagues, at a smoking concert held in the School Room of tire Wesley Methodist Church, Conisbrough on Sunday night.
Prior to the presentation, a Special Constables’ service had been held in the church, where Mr. Downing has been superintendent of the Sunday school for the past 53 years.
Speeches of appreciation of Mr. Downing ‘s long service were made by Sergt. Johnson of the West Riding Police and Section Commander F. Kelsall.
Sergt. Johnson said some people had looked upon the Special Constables in a manner which had not always been pleasant. During the war calls had been made them to a larger extent, and they had performed good work in answering those calls. During that time he had never been absent from duty. He thanked him on behalf of the Regular Police Force for services to the Special Constabulary.
Section Commander Kelsall said Section Leader Downing had a record the people of Conlsbrough should be proud of. He had known him all his life and had been closely associated with him during the past 11 years, and had never known of him being absent from duty during air raids in the last war. His 31 years was an outstanding record and he did not think there was anyone in the Special Constabulary with a record to match it.
Replying after the presentation, Mr. Downing said his years of service as a Special Constable had been wonderful years. He remembered when in 1916 he joined the Special Constabulary he was issued with an arm band and a cap.There was no uniform then, but they got that later. Mr. Downing ended by paying tribute to the fine comradeship that existed amongst the members of the Special Constabulary.
In May, 1916, the same year as he joined the Special Constabulary Mr. Downing was struck by lightning. This occurred on a Saturday afternoon when he went with his horses and dray to Edlington to do a removal job. During the afternoon a thunderstorm broke and while he was walking along a passage out of the house the building was struck and Mr. Downing was hurtled back into the kitchen. Feeling rather giddy and with a sensation of ‘ pins and needles ” running through his body, he picked himself up and walked out. He found that the house had been split into two parts.
Mr. Downing thinks the reason why he was not killed was that a coat hanging in the passage where he was walking, broke the force of the shock.