Crowland firefighter Neil Hoskin put off his retirement date to complete an animal project close to his heart.
Neil (47), a firefighter at Dogsthorpe, was instrumental in introducing pet-friendly animal masks to Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS).
He delayed his retirement in order to deliver his final training sessions to crews. That marked the milestone completion of the Smokey Paws animal masks project, with a set of pet-friendly masks now used in animal rescues in every CFRS station.
In front of friends and colleagues as well as his wife Nikki, Neil was presented with a figurine by Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland to mark his retirement after 26 years’ service.
Mr Strickland said: “I have always been struck by the passion Neil has shown to the service, even though by the time I first met him he had already been in it for more than 15 years, and I have never seen anything different from him. He always gives 100 per cent.
“Neil is the sort of person who makes up the service. He is a real character and he will be missed.”
Neil joined the service aged 21 and spent time at various fire stations. He has been attached to the Tactical Delivery Group for the final year of his service orchestrating the introduction of the animal masks across the service and delivering training to all the stations across the county.
He said: “I joined the service to help people and then moved on to helping animals as well. Overall, I feel I have done that and I have done more than I set out to achieve, so I am happy.”
He is now looking forward to not having to work weekends unless he chooses to, but will be kept busy running his own business providing landscaping and fencing to customers, as well as delivering training for an outside animal rescue organisation on subjects such as handling dangerous dogs.