A tribute to Roger Ditcham

Roger Ditcham web

Last month, we shared the sad news that Roger Ditcham, one of our longest serving community first responder passed away.

Earlier today (26th May), friends and family said goodbye at Roger’s funeral service.

Here Andrew Barlow, Community Collaboration Manager for Norfolk and North Cambridgeshire shares his moving tribute:

I met Roger for the first time when I was asked to attend one of the Freethorpe community first responder (CFR) group’s training evenings. I was invited along by Chris who helped to set up the group and was the coordinator at the time. The training was being held in the local chapel, where we were doing manual handling and CPR assessments. Roger made a funny comment about pulling people off the pews and I thought at the time – this man has a really great sense of humour.

Roger was one of the founding members of the Freethorpe group, beginning as a CFR in March 2005 and was responding right up until the day before he was taken into hospital.

Very quickly the group gained an excellent reputation for patient care, being trained initially by Chris and then by Ben, a senior paramedic and trainer EEAST.

Margaret took over as coordinator and the group continued to go from strength to strength with Roger who was one of the main driving forces, helping to maintain 24 hour cover across their area.

Roger was really passionate and proud to be a CFR and over the years he attended 1000’s of emergency calls in his local area, as well as promoting the Freethorpe group at local events.

Two years ago, Roger and other members of the group attended a ceremony where he received an award for 10 years of service with the trust, awarded by the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk; I had the pleasure of being there on the evening to support him.

Roger also attended the Norfolk coordinators meetings with Margaret, and as I would always have something to say - and he always managed to raise a laugh from the other coordinators.

Over the years I have had numerous comments of praise from crews complimenting Roger on his patient care, his natural ability to help de-stress a stressful situation and putting people at ease whilst awaiting the arrival of the ambulance crew. They were always pleased to see Roger on scene, as they knew he had already started patient care and treatment and knew he would always go that extra mile to assist them.

His reputation also extended to ambulance control, where the dispatcher was on first name terms with him and knew as soon as they heard his voice that he would attend the emergency call straight away; regardless of the time of day – or night.

My own relationship with Roger was always a positive one, he was a really good friend, and always there whenever I needed him. He never said no and always gave 100%. If it needed doing - he would do it; if I needed support - he supported; if I needed a shoulder he was there to offer it. He was one in a million and one of life’s givers.

One of my lasting memories of Roger was when he used to support me at the Royal Norfolk Show with his side kick and responder buddy Norma. I can picture them now carrying their multitude of kit bags across the show ground and being invited to take part in the ‘Sunset Ceremony’ in front of members of the royal family – a really proud moment for us all. There was Roger and I, along with the rest of the team taking the Queens salute with the Royal Marine band playing The Last Post and Sunset. Roger commented as we proudly stood side by side : “we did this and what a wonderful achievement it is for us all” – and it was.

He was a wonderful and caring responder, a real ambassador for the EEAST. But more importantly - a true, honest and genuine friend and he will be sadly be missed by us all.

God bless you Roger.

Published 26th May, 2017

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