A FORDINGBRIDGE firefighter has called it a day after 37 years of service.

Mark West has been an on-call firefighter at Fordingbridge Fire Station during that time after following in the footsteps of his father John.

But he says he felt it was time to give up his firefighting role.

Mark said: “I’ve enjoyed the years that I’ve done it. I hope the younger ones enjoy it as much as I have.”

During his career he has attended almost every type of incident imaginable.

Some of the big call-outs he has attended have included fires at Loaders Mill fire, The Maltings shopping centre and the White Hart Hotel in Salisbury.

His first call-out was to an incident involving burnt sausages under a grill while his first animal rescue was a cow stuck in a slurry pit

“I feel alright about it [retiring] but I’m still going to miss the shouts,” said Mark. “You do it for the community.”

He says he will also miss the camaraderie, adding: “You always have a good laugh. There are always people there if you need a bit of support. They are always there to help you, you can call on them any time.”

As well as being an on-call firefighter Mark also runs his own gardening business in and around Fordingbridge.

A retirement party was held at Avonway Community Centre on Saturday night which was attended by many of the Fordingbridge crew along with former members, colleagues from other local stations and the town's mayor Paul Anstey.

During the party Mark received his certificate of service from station manager Andy Weeks and gifts from the crew. His wife Kayte was presented with a bouquet of flowers for her dedication and support to Mark over the years.

Watch manager Pete White said: “I have served alongside Mark for 32 years and he has always been one of the most reliable firefighters I have known.

"I will miss him at the station both as a colleague and a friend. He will be a hard act to follow.”