A retained firefighter has retired after serving the community of Harborough and the surrounding district for a total of 25 years.
Kevin Woodhouse, who lives in Market Harborough, was involved in several call outs to major incidents in the area, including the collapse of the roof at the former Green & Co stationers in Harborough in 2002, and the police helicopter crash at the airbase in Sulby.
The 59-year-old started out as a retained firefighter 25 years ago after a conversation with a close pal while they were having a drink.
The next day, he visited the fire station in Harborough, which was in Abbey Street at the time, and within a fortnight was part of the firefighting crew.
While serving as a retained firefighter over the years, Mr Woodhouse has held a number of day jobs, including working as an abattoir manager in Springfield Street and as assistant market manager for Harborough District Council.
He now works for Glenmere Timber at the woodyard in Gores Lane, Harborough.
He said that one of the difficulties of being an on-call firefighter is that he could be summoned for an incident at anytime, meaning that even if he was doing an important job at work he would have to drop everything and leave immediately.
Mr Woodhouse said his wife Chris and two children Daniel and Trudi have been very understanding of his role, but there were times when he had planned an evening out with his wife but would have to cancel if duty called.
When the Green & Co building in High Street, which is now the offices of Andrew Granger & Co estate agency, collapsed in 2002, Mr Woodhouse was the first on the scene. He recalled: “When we went inside the building all we could see was lots of debris.
“We looked into the roof and there was nothing other than a guy’s head sticking out underneath the rubble.
“He told us there was two other people in there.”
Everyone was rescued and Mr Woodhouse later received a certificate for bravery from the Humane Society.
Mr Woodhouse intends to take up fly-fishing and spend more time with his family and grandchildren Ruby, Carmen and Amber.
Colleagues took him out for a meal to The Royal Bengal in town as part of his retirement celebrations.