Midhurst Fire Station says goodbye to 104 years of service

The man whose long years of service earned him the title '˜Mr Midhurst' at the town's fire station has finally hung up his helmet.

Tuesday, 2nd May 2017, 7:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 8:19 pm

Nigel Gamblen has retired after 42 years of service to his community, more than 30 of them as station manager.

And on Saturday friends, family and colleagues past and present gathered at Midhurst Fire Station to pay tribute to his service and to say goodbye to him and two fellow members of the West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service who together have given 104 years to their communities.

Jon Cole joined at Selsey in 1984 and transferred to Midhurst in 1987, serving as Nigel’s crew manager for many years.

Firefighter Sean Staker started at Petworth in 1989 and moved to Midhurst in 2003.

At an emotional evening on Saturday Nigel said: “I want to thank everybody who has served with me, my station management team and the community I have served in.

“I have seen many changes over the years to technology, equipment, appliances and uniform, which have helped us fight fires and given us more protection.

“I am sorry to be going, but I wish the station a safe and happy future as firefighters continue their good work.

“I have been very proud and privileged to lead a fantastic team of firefighters over more than 30 years as the officer in charge.”

Nigel followed in his father Dennis’s footsteps and joined the Fire & Rescue Service as a retained firefighter at Midhurst in December 1974.

Literally thousands of 999 calls later, and after 30 years as station commander and officer in charge at Midhurst, Nigel is now stepping down.

During his service he has attended some of the largest emergencies in West Sussex such as the fires at Uppark House and at Sainsbury’s in Chichester.

He has had to deal with major floods, the terrible consequences of road accidents, and his vast experience of attending fires in open countryside like Iping Common has seen him recognised as the ‘wildfire’ expert for West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service.

This has led to him attending specialist conferences and sharing his expertise by training other incident commanders.

In recent years Nigel has also served in ‘wholetime’ roles as a retained liaison officer, and supporting the crewing and availability of other retained crewed fire stations.

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