Tommy Paterson, who retires this month after 42 years as a Retained Firefighter in Saltburn, says he is as “proud as punch” to have received the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
He said: “It is a wonderful honour for myself, my family, Cleveland Fire Brigade and the people of Saltburn. I have loved every minute of my job and I will miss the work, my colleagues and all the people I have been in contact with. It has been a huge part of my life and it will be very strange not being involved.any more.
“But I am a proud as punch to have been honoured in this way.”
Tommy officially retires on his 61st birthday on June 19.The BEM is for services to fire safety and the community of Saltburn and Cleveland.
Ian Hayton, Chief Fire Officer, Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “We are delighted that Tommy has been recognised for his long and dedicated service to Cleveland Fire Brigade and the Saltburn community.
“Tommy joined us in 1974 and whilst working at Saltburn Station he has earned the respect of the community, his peers, key partners and other agencies through his hard work and dedication. He not only acts as a role model to the younger generation of firefighters but always goes above and beyond his duties, showing commitment and passion to his profession and determination to improve the lives of the local community within Saltburn.
“This honour is a fitting tribute to him.”
Tommy has regularly been on-call 120 hours a week to provide rapid response to a variety of emergencies and received a personal citation from the Chief Fire Officer for saving the life of a cyclist by performing CPR alongside other team members until the Air Ambulance arrived.
During his 42 years as a retained firefighter, Tommy has dealt with a wide range of incidents – from rescuing children from house fires to releasing people trapped in toilet cubicles on trains. He has never taken a day off sick in the last 26 years.
He was a gardener for Saltburn Council and was responsible for planting and maintaining the award-winning floral displays in the Valley Gardens in Saltburn which received the Britain in Bloom Silver Award for Best Coastal Town in 2011. He also helps organise the town’s annual Christmas parade for the children of Saltburn.
Tommy’s wife Susan is a hairdresser in Saltburn and daughter Sarah, 26, is a music teacher at Yarm School and an accomplished harpist who played at Prince Charles’s 60th birthday.
Photo: Tommy Paterson.