An ambulance worker who has served the Worksop community for 37 years travelled to his retirement party in true vintage style.
Alan Whyles, 63, stepped aboard a classic 1970s ambulance as he prepared to step down from his job as a paramedic.
The unusual mode of transport was a complete surprise for Alan. He was picked up from his home in Shireoaks and driven to Worksop Ambulance Station where family, friends and colleagues waited to surprise him.
“I thought I was just going out for a drink. I didn’t expect all that,” said Alan, who started his career at Retford Ambulance Station back in 1975.
“I couldn’t believe it when the old ambulance came round the corner with its blue lights on and two tone siren. And driving it was my old friend Rod Woodward.”
Rod was the man who suggested Alan should go for the ambulance job all those years ago. Before that he had worked as a joiner.
Said Alan: “I was out of work and Rod asked if I had thought about joining the ambulance service. He persuaded me to go for it and I’ve never looked back.”
“I have been very happy doing ambulance work and I have enjoyed the company of all my colleagues over the years.”
“The thing I enjoyed most about the job is that you never knew what was coming next, that was the beauty of it. And you meet lots of nice and fascinating people - but also some rubbish folk too.”
Alan said he had attended almost every kind of emergency call imaginable, from serious road accidents to shootings and even babies being born.
“Deep down I will miss it. But at this moment in time with the ambulance service going through a bit of a bad patch it’s the right time for me to retire,” said Alan.
He reminisced about the early days of his career when he would only cover the Retford area and surrounding villages, rarely venturing onto jobs in Worksop.
“You relied on local knowledge to get around and that was one of an ambulance man’s strongest assets,” he said.
“Those were the good old days. Now you get called out to jobs in Mansfield and even towards Nottingham and end up being stuck over there for much of the day responding to other calls.”
“The change from eight hour shifts to 12 hours has been hard too. It’s very tiring.”
But Alan has had the devoted support of his wife Sandra for the last 20 years and even his son Craig followed him into the ambulance service.
Said Alan: “He used to come down to the station after school and hang out with the lads. He loved it so much he decided to become a paramedic and now he works in a management role for Derbyshire.”
“My grandson Owen, who is seven, also likes seeing the ambulances with the lights and all the switches and radios. But it’s a bit early to tell whether he fancies it as a career.”
Alan’s colleagues put on a buffet for him at the station, including a brilliant cake with an ambulance on top. They bought him gifts including a DeWalt drill, so Alan can keep up his legendary DIY work, and a £2 silver proof coin bearing Charles Dickens’ picture to add to his collection.
Fellow paramedic Kim Wolverson paid tribute to Alan’s long service, calling him a ‘father figure’. “He’s a polite man and very approachable. Alan’s a true gentleman and we’ll all miss him,” said Kim.
And former colleague Emma Bardney added: “I always enjoyed working with Alan because his experience was so valuable. I always felt very safe on shift with him and I know he will be sorely missed by the Service.”