A “caring man who loved people” has died aged 97 after he became the county’s longest-serving ambulance worker.

Making the bold move to change careers during his 40s, George Wright would go on to become part of life-changing moments for hundreds of patients.

From assisting in the delivery of babies in the back of ambulances to successfully rescuing a toddler from a garden pond, it is fair to say being a people person carried him through a rewarding career.

And as a testament to his longevity at the East of England Ambulance Trust, the organisation has provided a flag to be present at his funeral on Friday, January 28.

One of the youngest of five siblings and son of a French polisher, George Robert Victor Wright was born on October 13, 1924, on Marlborough Road, off Magdalen Road, Norwich. He attended the local schools' Magdalen Gates Primary, on Bull Close Road, and Angel Road.

His eldest son, James Wright, known as Jim, said his upbringing was typical of the time.

“Like many people of that generation, there was not much in the way of cash, but he was typical of someone who came from a normal working family in the city.

“He was born and bred in Norfolk and the first time he left the county was when he was conscripted during the Second World War.”

Mr Wright was a Royal Navy sailor from 1943-46 and worked on a convoy escort vessel in the North Atlantic. The crew travelled to a number of places including Russia and America.

“It was an introduction to a much wider world than he was used to,” Jim added.

“When we were growing-up he only ever told us about the good times and fun he had including escapades of being chased out of Harlem in New York, and scrumping bananas in Bermuda.

“It was only in later life that he said how scary it was and described how frightening it was at times, like the terrible weather at sea and never knowing when someone would launch a torpedo.”

Eastern Daily Press: George Wright pictured with his wife, May WrightGeorge Wright pictured with his wife, May Wright (Image: SUPPLIED)

A highlight during this time was meeting his future wife, Margaret Burnett, who went by the name May. They met towards the end of the war in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, in what their son described as a “romantic” encounter.

When Mr Wright saw May trying to avoid a group of American servicemen, he pretended to be her partner to ward them off. The swift-thinking move saw the couple fall in love and go on to marry in 1946.

They then moved to Norwich where they lived with Mr Wright’s parents, two of his four brothers, and other family members in a small terraced house. It was no surprise when they jumped at the chance to move into a Nissen hut at the former RAF Rackheath airfield, where one of the first jobs Mrs Wright undertook was sweeping leaves out of the hut and hanging curtains to act as room dividers.

Here they had two sons; James in 1950 and Richard, 1955.

Eventually, the family moved to Lakenham before settling in the Heartsease Estate, where they remained until moving to Bowthorpe care village ahead of Mrs Wright’s death in 2019.

Despite having a secure job with British Rail, Mr Wright, also a long-serving St John's Ambulance volunteer, decided in 1964 he was ready for a new challenge and joined the ambulance service as a driver.

“He was in his 40s and it was quite a big thing to do at the time. He enjoyed caring for others and that was why he wanted the opportunity to become an ambulance driver.

“It was a very different ambulance service back then to what we know today. It was more like an agency service and it worked alongside St John’s Ambulance and the British Red Cross - it had a scoop and scoot method then.

“He would come home and tell us stories about his day – much to the alarm of our then girlfriends, now wives – talking through the scenarios as back then we also volunteered for St John’s.”

In 1989, Mr Wright retired at the age of 65 but continued working well into his 70s for the patient transport services, Assembly House, John Brown Funerals, and Lawson Road Health Centre. He also enjoyed visits to his favourite place, Cromer.

“He was the type of guy who if you needed someone to do a raffle, he would do it. He just loved people and he loved to help.”

Mr Wright died on December 23, 2021. As well as his sons, he leaves behind five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

The family is fundraising for the East Anglian Air Ambulance in his memory. Donations via c/o John Brown Funeral Services, 102 North Walsham Road, NR6 7QQ or call 01603 419397.

A man who left his mark

Diane Chan, senior locality manager of the East of England Ambulance Trust, worked with Mr Wright.

She said: "It was always a great pleasure to work with George, who was a caring and kind-hearted clinician.

"He was my role model, always positive, would always go the extra mile, and always made you smile.

"George was truly inspirational for all new students. Rest in peace."