Eastbourne’s longest serving firefighter Bob Newton has retired after more than 40 years.
Bob, who is also an MBE for services to the Sussex Army Cadet Force where he was a Colonel Commandant, said farewell to his colleagues after his final shift at the Community Fire Station in Whitley Road on Monday morning.
Friends and colleagues past and present were joined by chief fire officer at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service Des Prichard who paid tribute to what he called Bob’s remarkable achievement during a career spanning more than 40 years and his fundraising efforts for local charities as crew manager of Green Watch at the station.
Bob became a firefighter in July 1972 when the Eastbourne Borough Fire Brigade was based in Bourne Street.
He said, “As a fresh faced 19-year-old fireman I put on my second hand issued fire boots which was often the case then, for the first time at Bourne Street.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would still be squirting water and rescuing cats up trees on a regular basis as a young 60 plus year old crew manager.
“As I hang up my high tech, new fire boots for the last time I wonder where has 40 years gone. There have been lots and lots of very happy fun times, many challenges, and sadly a few tears along the way.
“Still, that’s all part of this wonderful job.
“I would just like to say that it has been an absolute pleasure to work with the best group of people ever during my career. Working in Eastbourne Borough Fire Brigade, East Sussex Fire Brigade and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, mostly on Green Watch, has been a huge privilege, and an experience I will remember for the rest of my days.
“You’re on call together under pressure in sometimes adverse situations where you have to rely on one another from that you start building bonds and make some amazing friendships; that’s what makes the fire service such a special organisation.
“The fire service is not only an excellent career but also more importantly, a family. I have enjoyed my life in the service so much that I would undoubtedly do it all over again if I had the choice.”
Chief fire officer of the fire service Des Prichard paid tribute to Bob in a speech at the farewell breakfast bash.
“Bob has been an exceptional firefighter and devoted his life to the fire service in Eastbourne,” he said.
“I have never met anyone like Bob and he will be missed.
“With his dedication and determination to the fire service Bob could have quite easily been standing here as a chief fire officer.
“He is an inspiration to his colleagues and is a fine example of what a firefighter should be”
As well as raising thousands of pounds for local charities with his colleagues during his time in the fire service, Bob is also a promiment figure in the Sussex Army Cadet Force.