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“Dream come true”: 89-year-old former ambulance driver takes trip down memory lane

A great-grandfather who used to work for London Ambulance Service and was recently cared for by paramedics has visited the ambulance station where he worked as a driver in the early 1960s.

Michael Culverhouse and his wife, Vicki, thanked Paramedic Simone Gianni and Assistant Ambulance Practitioner (AAP) Julie Sheppard for coming to his aid when his blood count was low and he required urgent medical attention back in October. After a cup of tea with the team he took a tour of Camden Ambulance Station where he used to work.

He recalled stories from during his time at the Service and was shown the cutting-edge motorcycles and electric cars our medics use to treat patients in the capital now.

Michael was also shown a 1940s Daimler DC-27 ambulance, the closest model in existence to the Daimler he drove when he was at the ambulance service in the early 1960s.

Michael, from Golders Green in north-west London, said: “It was an absolute privilege working for the ambulance service. I really loved caring for people.”

He joined the ambulance service as an ambulance driver in 1962 when he was 28 years old and worked out of Camden and Battersea alongside his brother Macdonald.

He reflected on how the profession had changed since then.

Michael added: “There were no sirens like we have today. We had to ring a bell as we drove to our patients.

“We only knew basic first aid training and had to quickly put patients on a stretcher and take them to hospital. It was very different to how crews treat people on scene now.”

Michael remembered both tragedy and humour he found working at the Service.

He said: “I remember my first job. A butcher boy had collapsed in Islington and there was lots of blood.

“But when we turned him over we saw the blood was actually from all the meat he was carrying and he wasn’t badly injured at all!

“There were difficult jobs though. Those calls stay with your forever.”

Assistant Ambulance Practitioner Julie said: “Meeting Michael again and showing him round the station where he worked 60 years ago was just amazing. You can see how much the visit meant to him and his wife. Vicki kept looking at me and saying ‘it’s a dream come true’. He’s always wanted to come back. Once you’ve worked for us, you’re always part of the family.”

Michael’s wife Vicki said: “It was so lovely to visit the team at Camden. He loved his time at the ambulance service and always has taken an interest in what London Ambulance Service does.”

Michael left in 1965, the year when the present-day London Ambulance Service was formed from parts of nine existing services in the new county of Greater London. He continued his passion for driving and helping others with a stint as a bus driver for autistic children.

LAS holds a collection of original items that trace the history of the Service in its Historic Collection. This includes a horse carriage and blitz ambulance from the Second World War, as well as medical equipment, uniforms, and medals of historical significance. If you would like to donate to the safe keeping and exhibition of the London Ambulance Service’s archive, visit our charity page.

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