FIREFIGHTER Pete White has hung up his helmet after serving the community of Fordingbridge for 33 years.

He has served as the watch manager in the town where his on-call firefighting career started in August 1987. He completed his last shift on Saturday - 33 years to the day when he started.

"Fordingbridge is where it all started," said Pete. "I feel sad. It's been my life since I was 18 - I'm going to miss it."

He says the "time was right" to leave and it was time to "have a change" and spend more time with his family.

"I've loved every minute of it," said Pete, who is also a councillor on Fordingbridge Town Council.

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"I've been mulling it over and the Covid thing it makes you look at life differently," he added.

"I have lots of nice things to look back on."

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Pete was presented with a plaque in recognition of his service as well as a special retirement gift from crew members - his own special zimmer frame.

In addition to his firefighting duties Pete has organised a number of events over the years including the annual Fire Station 10k run and A Party in the Park, supporting various charities, as well as taking on charity challenges with his fellow crew members.

He also started a fundraising page which enabled more defibrillators to be purchased for the town.

Pete said: "I've enjoyed helping people. Some stuff will stay with me. It has been serving the town really and I'm proud to have done the charity stuff.

"I have made a lot of good friends and worked with a lot of good stations.

"I've learnt a lot about myself and I've done things I never thought I would do."

Pete says there have been many memorable call-outs during his career, including some more unusual ones. In April 2015, Pete was called to a fire that broke out in a Fordingbridge home where two tortoises, Toby and Dinky, were rescued. It is believed the fire broke out after one of the tortoises knocked over a heating lamp.

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Other memorable incidents during Pete's career have included the Loaders Mill fire back in 1994, the fires in Salisbury at the Maltings in 1989 and the the White Hart Hotel in 1994 as well as the flooding in Fordingbridge during Christmas of 1999 and Pennys Lane in 2014.

"There's just been so many," added Pete "They will all be part of the memories."

To others thinking of becoming an on-call firefighter, Pete said: "Give it a go. It opens lots of doors and there are lots of opportunities and a chance to give something back to the community. That's what's nice about it."