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Fireman David Mayhew, based at Thames-side station, retires after 30 years

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After three decades saving lives, fighting fires and rescuing the odd cat, one firefighter has hung up his helmet.

David Mayhew served 30 years with Kent Fire and Rescue Service, and 26 of those were at Thames-side station in Northfleet.

Born in Gravesend, Mr Mayhew grew up and lived most of his life in the town, going to Dover Road primary school and then on to the old Northfleet School for Boys.

Dave Mayhew (front with white paper) and colleagues on his last day at the fire station
Dave Mayhew (front with white paper) and colleagues on his last day at the fire station

“When I first joined, the job was very exciting,” he said. “It was exactly what I wanted. But I’ve got to the point where I’m struggling now. It gets a lot harder as you get older.”

He followed in his late grandfather’s footsteps – a KFRS fireman throughout the Second World War – and Mr Mayhew has seen some devastating incidents in his time too.

The father of three added: “There has been a lot over the years that I and my colleagues have all had to put a brave face on for.

“The truth is, if it doesn’t affect you, there’s something wrong with you, especially in situations where you can relate to the people involved – say if they’re your or your children’s age.

“I must have been to just about every type of incident or emergency in my time, including the old cat up a tree.

“Some things are a bit more lighthearted. It’s amazing how many children get their heads stuck in railings.

“The best part of this job though, is the banter, and the guys you work with. You’re part of a team in the fire service, you’re one unit and there’s a lot of camaraderie.

“It’s a fantastic career with some terrific people, and one in which you’re making a difference to somebody every day.”

Stock picture.
Stock picture.

Now Mr Mayhew is looking forward to some much-deserved family time, including seeing more of his three grown-up children, Lauren, Joe and Harry.

“In the early years you can just deal with the shift working, but I’m looking forward to having all my Christmases, weekends and birthday celebrations back again, and spending some time with my long-suffering wife of 12 years, Jardine.”

With 20 years’ experience in the field, he has now set up his own first aid training business, Target First Aid, which offers Ofsted-compliant qualifications and NVQs.

“Everyone who works for me is from the emergency services themselves or retired from it,” he added. “So I’m excited about getting that going more.”

He and his team can train anyone from – school, nursery and fostering agency staff to people working at leisure facilities.

Visit http://targetfirstaid.com for more information about Target First Aid

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