St Neots station celebrates 50 years

To commemorate 50 years of being open, the current St Neots crews invited the retired staff back to the station on the 29th June 2019.

The picture below was taken in January 1969, and formed part of a newspaper article about the opening of a new St Neots ambulance station, Cambs, after the previous one had closed in 1960. The station was opened due to ‘great pressure from the people of St Neots’ to have their own station in the town. It cost £16,000 and was built to serve the St Neots area, which at the time had a population of 11,900 and rural district of 9,100. The station was manned from 0800-1800 MonSat and 0800-1700 on Sundays – at all other times staff were called in from home. 

From left to right: John Wicks, Barry Hall, Tim Moss, Ron Elt, Frank Ringwood, Tom McGuire, Station Officer Summers, Mr Moore (chairman of the council) & Mr Bunday (Chief Fire and Ambulance Officer). 

Barry Hall and Ron Elt, in the original photo above, were able to come along, to help recreate the picture 50 years on, with the current St Neots crews.

Barry Hall said, of his 42 years’ service;

“It’s been a privilege to serve in the ambulance service - best job I’ve ever had!”

From left to right: James Leakey, Barry Hall, Sammy Cameron, Ron Elt, Dave McClagish, Danny Hygate, Jenni McClagish, Dave Gibson, Ian, Graham West (previous staff member in place of the Councillor from the original picture) and Leslie Hall – current Leading Operations Manager (LOM) for St Neots.

A number of other previous members of the St Neots team also joined the celebrations. The staff in this picture have a combined service time of over 320 years within the NHS ambulance service:

From left to right: 

Back Row: Ron Elt, Barry Hall, Graham West, Robin Dibben, Chris McGuiag, Al Cooper,  Diane Wells, Danny Hygate, Mark Williams, Barry Lawson, and Dave Gibson.

Front Row: Sammy Cameron, Dave McClagish, James Leakey, Lesley Hall, Bruce the dog, Ian Taylor and Jenni McClagish.

After a tour of the station, Barry & Ron commented that the same lockers, that were installed for them 50 years ago, were still there! They were also horrified to see that the Ambulance Bay floor wasn’t shining, as this was polished daily in the 70s.

After the photos, everyone headed into town, regaled into the evening with stories of past times; from locking colleagues in the lockers, to fitting fake ‘tracking devices’ to vehicles to wind the boss up. They also had an allotment at the back of the station, so they could pick fresh vegetables for their lunch. Due to the station only being manned in the daytime, the crew of the 70s used to work all day and then be on standby at night - frequently arriving home to be turned out by their wives, as control had called their home address when they were on the way back, and they had had another call for them to attend.

“Thank you for inviting us back to revisit the ambulance station we first set foot on, as one of the first crew some 50 years ago. It brought back many memories and thoughts of other colleagues, sadly no longer with us. You all have far greater skill now than was available to us, and long may this much needed station and its personnel continue to provide the much needed service to the growing area.”

Ron Elt – 28 years' service, retired 1994

“Things have changed so much. I employed the first female member of frontline ambulance staff in Cambridgeshire in the late 70s. The visit took me back to some great times, as if they were yesterday (I wish). It was good to see the station in safe hands ,with the old ethos showing through.”

Graham West – 18 years' service – retired 1991

Published 3rd July 2019

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