Firefighter honoured for 30 years dedication to town

Crew manager Phil Spooner receiving a certificate from watch manager Tim Bray to mark 30 years of service.

Crew manager Phil Spooner receiving a certificate from watch manager Tim Bray to mark 30 years of service at Beccles Fire Station. - Credit: Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service

A Beccles firefighter has been honoured for more than three decades of service to the town.

Crew manager Phil Spooner is the longest serving member of the team, having joined in November 1990, and was promoted to crew manager in 2004.

The 67-year-old was recognised for his service with a certificate from watch manager Tim Bray to honour his 30 years of uninterrupted service to the town and surrounding area.

He said: "Where have the years gone? They have flown past.

"It has been a big commitment over 30 years, but I have enjoyed it.

"Sadly, I am no spring chicken and it will soon be time to hang up my helmet, but it has been an absolute honour to serve Beccles and the surrounding areas.

"Hopefully I can last to the end of the year to mark 31 years in November."

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Over the last three decades, Mr Spooner has been involved in countless call-outs, including in 2009 when a driver crashed into eight children in Worlingham after suffering an epileptic fit.

He said: "You get the good things as well as some not so nice things. I've seen it all.

"We had a 25 pumper at the Lowestoft Hippodrome many years ago with crews from all over Norfolk and Suffolk.

"There was also a lady who went off the road at Gillingham Dam and ended up upside down in a water filled ditch.

"Luckily, she was in a pocket of air at the back and we could wade in up to our chests to get her out.

"It was a very frosty, slippery morning and we couldn't get an ambulance because they were so busy with so many different crashes.

"We ended up getting a doctor out from Beccles Hospital and thankfully she survived."

Mr Bray praised his former mentor, saying: "Phil is somebody everyone looks up to and gives the best cover as an on call firefighter in the town.

"He has given more cover to the town than any other firefighter in the history of Beccles station.

"Without him and his presence it wouldn't be what it is today.

"For the last 30 years this town is indebted to him.

"I have been here for 23 years and he was my mentor and personal friend."