Sheringham family’s commitment to fire service since Second World War is ‘exceptional and possibly unique’
- Credit: Archant
A teenager from north Norfolk is continuing a family tradition which began with his great-great-grandfather almost 100 years ago - by joining his local fire station.
Nineteen-year-old Tom Richardson is the fifth generation of firefighters from his family to serve at the station in Sheringham.
He will serve alongside his father Paul, 47, who has been a firefighter in the town for 29 years.
Paul's father, Roger Richardson, 68, was a firefighter at the station for 44 years and retired around two years ago.
They follow in the footsteps of Paddy - Tom's great-grandfather - who served for 33 years.
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The first member of the family to join the fire service was Alf Draycott, Paddy's father-in-law, who served for 30 years from the 1920s to the 1950s.
Tom, who was a firefighter cadet for four years, said: 'I always wanted to be a firefighter. It was just something I grew up with. It's a big family thing.'
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Paul said: 'I think we must have set some kind of record. It's been bred into us since we were children.'
Roger started as a firefighter with his brother Ian, in 1970. Ian completed 25 years' service before retiring due to a work injury.
Roger was destined to join them after first clambering on a fire engine during Sheringham Carnival as a five-year-old. And he has not totally severed his links with the station, as he remains a volunteer mentor to the firefighter cadets.
Among his recollections were a call out to rescue a squirrel from a window ledge and his first job which was a hedge fire at the former Runton Hill School in West Runton.
However, with many serious moments too, he revealed it was the camaraderie of his fellow firefighters which kept him in the service for so long.
Roger said: 'I went to an accident once which stuck with me. We turned the corner and it was my son's car sitting there. He was injured and taken to hospital but recovered.
'You become a close team. You have to be for the job you are doing. We shared the highs and the lows and I had a sense I was helping people out.'
Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service has praised the Richardson family's commitment to firefighting in Sheringham and revealed their length of service is 'possibly unique'.
David Ashworth, Chief Fire Officer, said: 'Norfolk fire and rescue depends heavily on the support of the local community to ensure the availability of emergency response in the more rural areas of the county. For retained firefighters this requires a significant level of both commitment and sacrifice which does become a way of life.
'For this commitment to be continued throughout generations is significant and of note. The support the Richardson family has provided since the Second World War is exceptional and possibly unique.
'I am extremely grateful to all of the Richardson family and to each of our retained crews and their families for their ongoing support and commitment in keeping our communities safe.'
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