Ambulance man retires after 37 years on the job

After more than three decades of saving lives and only three days off sick, Mick Shepherd has finally said goodbye to the ambulance service.

The 59-year-old, who grew up in west Ealing and lives in Greenford, joined the London Ambulance Service from the Post Office back in 1971.

The father of one said: “When I was working in the sorting office one of my colleagues got their fingers damaged in a machine and everyone was really shocked but I kept calm and decided to get them in my van and get to hospital. Later, when I was passing the ambulance station I thought I would get an application form.”

Once qualified as an ambulance man, he worked out of Hanwell and Greenford stations. He became an emergency medical technician and remained at the Hanwell complex for the rest of his career.

Mick, who was nicknamed ‘Mother’ by his colleagues because he was so tidy, took home just £19 a week when he qualified, but enjoyed the job he was doing.

He said: “I loved the job—even on my last shift I didn’t want it to end. Delivering babies was always a happy occasion and I’ve lost count of how many I delivered. There have also been many tragic incidents over the years—I remember in particular the Ealing train crash in December 1973 when 10 died and about 100 were injured. Sometimes people think that we don’t have feelings but you just can’t help getting upset sometimes, especially when children are involved.”

Mick said the Service changed dramatically over the years. He added: “These days there is much better equipment, communications and training, but the basic job remains the same—it’s about caring for people.”

Mick has many happy memories of his time out on the road and remembers one day in particular.

“My dad, who worked as a milkman, was driving his milk float when he crashed with a police officer on a motorcycle. I was called to the incident to treat the patients and couldn’t believe it when I saw my dad there. Then we got the officer to King Edward Hospital and there was my sister on reception to book him in. That was a very strange day.”

Mick’s only son is currently training to be a paramedic. Now retired, Mick intends to spend his spare time with his one-year-old granddaughter and concentrate on his hobbies—gardening and cooking. But Mick insists he will miss the ambulance service.

He said: “I miss the camaraderie and the feeling of being part of a big family. There is no job like it—the trauma and heartache and not knowing what you’ll be doing from one minute to the next. It was so interesting and rewarding. I don’t, however, miss wrestling with drunks, and the disrespect for authority, which seems to have got worse over the years.”

Ambulance Operations Manager for Barnehurst, Steph Adams, said: “Mick has always been very happy in his job and has helped a large number of trainees with his personality, experience and calming approach and was a member of staff others would look forward to working with.

“Mick has had an exemplary record, with only three days off sick during his whole career with the Service. He was also extremely caring and used to take out a hot water bottle with him in the winter to warm up the old patients. He will be missed by us all.”

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Notes to editors:

  • For further information about the London Ambulance Service or this news release please contact the communications department on 020 7921 5113.
  • We are looking to recruit 300 new life-savers who will train over a three-year period to become fully-qualified paramedics. Further information can be obtained on the student paramedics page or by calling our recruitment centre on 020 7463 2501.