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Firefighter celebrates four decades of serving community

PUBLISHED: 16:14 23 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:14 23 February 2020

Derek Oxborough has retired from the fire service after 44 years. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Derek Oxborough has retired from the fire service after 44 years. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

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A firefighter is preparing to stay goodbye to his station after four decades of service.

Derek Oxborough receiving a certificate to mark his long service from chief fire officer Mark Hardingham Picture: SUFFOLK FIRE AND RESCUEDerek Oxborough receiving a certificate to mark his long service from chief fire officer Mark Hardingham Picture: SUFFOLK FIRE AND RESCUE

Derek Oxborough has spent 44 years of his life as an on-call firefighter for Suffolk Fire and Rescue, based at Woodbridge Station.

Now after four decades he is hanging up his pager for good.

"A chap from over the road took me down and I started from there," said Mr Oxborough.

"It was just getting involved with the community. We were helping people; that's one of the biggest things.

Derek Oxborough at Woodbridge Fire Station where he has spent over four decades Picture: Victoria PertusaDerek Oxborough at Woodbridge Fire Station where he has spent over four decades Picture: Victoria Pertusa

"I also learned to drive a fire engine at 21."

During his time with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Mr Oxborough has been called out to a wide range of incidents.

One of the most harrowing was at a house fire in Alderton where he and colleague were just seconds away from being struck by a falling water tank.

While more memorable events include, Mr Oxborough and his crew having to save a horse from a well.

Derek Oxborough said leaving the service would leave a hole in his life Picture: Victoria PertusaDerek Oxborough said leaving the service would leave a hole in his life Picture: Victoria Pertusa

"We ended up having to dig the slope of the well out," said Mr Oxborough.

Mr Oxborough's son, Adam said the job had sometimes taken its toll on his dad.

"There would be times on Christmas Day where we would be eating dinner and his beeper would go off and we would not see him for two hours," said Adam.

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"That happened a lot of Christmas Days."

Adam also remembers his father getting calls late in the evening, being out until the early hours and coming home to go to his day job as a cabinet maker only hours later.

"What he has done is quite an accomplishment," said Adam.

"The things he has seen have not been nice at times."

Mr Oxborough had considered leaving after 30 years in the job but was encouraged to stay on, now 14 years later he's finally decided to leave.

"I am 62 now, I think it's time I spent time with my family," said Mr Oxborough.

"It's going to leave a big hole."

Chief fire officer Mark Hardingham said that the service had few firefighters in its ranks who have served as many years as Mr Oxborough.

"It's becoming less and less common," said Mr Hardingham.

"Derek doing 44 years is fantastic, most on call officers stay five or six years."

Mr Hardingham said that although people like Mr Oxborough were hard to find, their work was most appreciated.

"He joined at 18 and he is now 62. It's fantastic. It's exactly what rural services like Suffolk really want," said Mr Hardingham.

"They give a massive contribution for a long period of time."


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