High Peak firefighter hangs up his hat

Robert Hancock with colleagues Michael Merrick, Steven Miller, Graham Hodgkinson, David Owens and Wayne Dilworth.
Robert Hancock with colleagues Michael Merrick, Steven Miller, Graham Hodgkinson, David Owens and Wayne Dilworth.

A Chapel-en-le-Frith firefighter of 34 years has retired - saying he will miss the camaraderie of the service but not ‘getting up in the middle of the night’.

Robert Hancock, 65, joined the crew as a retained firefighter while working as a test engineer at Ferodo brakes company as a way of ‘helping the community’.

During his 34 years at Chapel Fire Station the father-of-two and grandfather-of-four has attended every type of incident - from grass fires to road traffic accidents, house fires, water rescues and train accidents.

Robert - who says he could still have passed the fitness test and carried on but wanted to spend more time on his boat - said he stayed so long in the service because he ‘loved the job’.

He said: “It’s a very varied job - you’re doing all sorts of different things and are helping the community.

“People call you when they need you the most.

“Some of the jobs have been unpleasant - fatalities are not very nice and you don’t forget those but you have to take it as part of the job really.

“You dwell on them for a few days but you talk it over with colleagues.”

However Robert added that he had been to fewer fatalities during recent years as cars had become safer - although motorcycles were still the exception.

Speaking about what he would miss the most Robert said: “I’ll miss the camaraderie and the interesting jobs but I’ll miss getting up in the middle of the night much less.

“I have to thank my family for the support they’ve shown over the years.

“My wife and children have suffered me rushing out at short notice.

“I’ve missed family dinners and all sorts due to the fire service - they’ve always been very supportive.

Now that Robert, who has been retired from his job at Ferodo for 15 years, is a full-time man of leisure he plans to devote a lot more time to his boat - which he keeps in North Wales.