After 52 years of service with the ambulance service as both an employee and volunteer, Colin Burdon and his wife Christine have decided to take a well-earned rest.
Colin began his ambulance service as a volunteer with St John Ambulance in Eastbourne in 1962 aged 15. At the time the service used full-time employees from 7am to 10pm while night hours were covered by volunteers.
Colin joined the ambulance service full time in 1969, aged 21, until his ‘employed retirement’ in 2003. Not content with helping the public in the ambulance service, he also joined the RNLI serving on the Eastbourne lifeboat from 1969 to 1990.
On retiring from the ambulance service in 2003 Colin founded Heartstart, a successful Community First Responders group based in Alfriston. The team grew to number seven responders who attended more than 300 emergency 999 calls in 2013. Last year Colin was directly responsible for saving two people’s lives after heart attacks.
During nearly 10 years as a Community First Responder Colin received two awards for conspicuous service. He and Christine have been invited to the Queen’s garden party in May.
Christine has also given hugely to the community having been a Samaritan for 20 years and main fundraiser for the Heartstart team as well as supporting Colin’s work.
Colin’s career included many roles in the service. He was one of the first full paramedics in Sussex and worked at the forefront of enhanced training for ambulance staff, particularly with regard to heart related illness.
He has been based at many ambulance stations across Sussex over his career. He said that one of the most memorable was a spell as Margaret Thatcher’s personal paramedic (during her time as Prime Minister) in 1990 when she was in Eastbourne in 1990 at the height of the IRA campaign.
Colleagues say the couple’s departure will leave a huge gap in the community that will be difficult to fill .