IN A combined century of service they have saved hundreds of lives, witnessed the start of many more, and met some true characters along the way.
Now Tony Ledger, Graham Skinner and Colin Parkinson, who have worked side by side for the local ambulance service for 48 years, 37 years and 20 years respectively, are getting set to enjoy a well earned retirement. Former Cowley plant worker Mr Ledger, from Florence Park, joined the Oxfordshire Ambulance Service in 1964, where he planned to stay for a just a year before joining the forces.
But the 70-year-old loved the job so much he went on to work for the service for the next 48 years, 30 of them responding to 999 emergency calls.
Mr Ledger, who decided to work two days a week when he hit 65, as an ambulance car driver, has decided to call it a day and will enjoy full retirement by walking his dog Rowan.
He said: “Over the years I’ve attended just about every type of medical emergency you can imagine. “I am proud of the citation I received from The Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire for my actions at a nasty road traffic accident, but my fondest memories will be of the companionship and support from colleagues and of the countless patients I have met over the years.
“Just today I met with a woman in my local park whose life I saved 30 years ago.”
Graham Skinner of Thame will also retire with fond memories. The 73-year old, clocked up 37 years service with the local ambulance service, and enjoyed it so much he went on to volunteer with the non-emergency Patient Transport Service when he reached 65.
He said: “During my career I’ve met a Dambuster, a special agent, even people who fought in the trenches in WW1. Chatting to them takes their mind of their injuries.
“The service has come a long way."
Colin Parkinson, who lives in Headington, worked as a fireman and HGV driver and at Rover Cowley before joining the Patient Transport Service in 1993 as an Ambulance Care Assistant.
He said: “Every day working for the ambulance service is different and that’s what I loved about it.
“That and the fact I was out and about meeting people and helping them.
“Things don’t always go according to plan. “One day I was asked to collect a patient from the Manzil Centre in Oxford and to take him back to his home in Watlington.
“We arrived at the address and the lady said ‘that’s not my husband.’ “I asked the patient if he was the lady’s husband and he said ‘no.’ I asked him where he lived and he replied ‘Florence Park.’
“When I asked him why he didn’t say anything during the journey he replied ‘I don’t get out a lot and I was enjoying the ride.”
Doug Sinclair, Head of SCAS’ Patient Transport Service said: “These three long serving members of staff will be sorely missed by staff and in particular by patients.
“When you consider the patients they have moved over the years the numbers must run into the thousands."