Harold Hill firefighter bows out after 30 years’ service
PUBLISHED: 17:14 03 January 2017 | UPDATED: 17:14 03 January 2017
Woodford fire station
Firefighters have paid tribute to their watch manager, who has retired from “the best job in the world” after 30 years of service.
Simon Nelson, of Harold Hill, 53, will be remembered by his colleagues at Woodford Fire Station as a respected team leader.
His career took off when he spotted an advert from the fire brigade looking for new recruits, in the Recorder.
Mr Nelson spent 20 years as a firefighter at Paddington, west London, before going on to train new crews driving fire engines at speed.
In the past four years he managed up to 10 men in blue watch at Woodford Fire Station, in Snakes Lane West, Woodford Green.
He said: “I was lucky to be part of a watch that fitted my personality – quite loud and boisterous at times. We always laughed and made jokes.
“That will stick with me the most – a great bunch of people. Saying goodbye to a job that I love and people that I love was not easy.”
His peers held a roll call in his honour on Saturday morning in front of the fire station.
Former station manager Bill Dunn, who started and retired from the fire brigade on the same day as Mr Nelson, also paid him a visit.
Firefighter Russell Ferris described him as “a real comedian – always laughing and joking”.
“It’s a real shame he is going and he will be sorely missed. It’s a massive loss for the borough.
“When families walked by the station, he always let children climb on the fire engine. He is a real caring and generous person,” Russell said.
For years, Mr Nelson supported charities in the area such as Haven House Children’s Hospice in Woodford Green and The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
But he has not said all of his goodbyes to the fire brigade as he will be joining Babcocks, a company which delivers external training to the fire service.
And to all young people thinking about joining the fire brigade Mr Nelson added: “Go for it, it’s one of the best jobs in the world.”
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