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Puriton 'superhero' ambulance driver retires after 41 years
A ‘SUPER HERO’ from Puriton is retiring from the ambulance service after over 40 years of saving people’s lives in Somerset.
Tony Stokes has spent 41 years with the ambulance services, starting in London but has spent most of his time around Bridgwater.
Tony, 60, said: “Most of my ambulance career was emergency response. If there was a call in Woolavington or Puriton I was the person to go.”
During his time in Somerset, Tony has responded to many major incidents over the years. One he remembers particularly vividly is an accident in 2003 where a car had crashed through a house.
Tony said: “I was nominated for the National Ambulance Service Institute Awards for my work there and I came out with the award for technician of the year.
“I went up to the House of Commons and was presented with the certificate and a crystal vase with a golden ambulance crest on it. That takes pride of place at home.”
There were other less-heroic moments in Tony’s career. Sarah Hooper, Tony’s daughter, said: “He went to an accident at Burnham beach about 20 years ago but, unfortunately, the tide was coming in.
“They were in a brand spanking new ambulance and then got stuck on the beach so he had to be rescued.”
Now, though, after over 41 years in service, Tony is looking forward to officially retiring on Thursday.
He said: “I thought I would miss it. I do miss the company and the colleagues and the banter. I have given my services to thousands upon thousands of people.
“But I am not getting any younger. I have got to consider drawing the line at some time. Going back over the years, I have put the ambulance service over the family, with me going out all hours.
“I have saved many people, and some we were not able to save. We are not supermen.”
However, his daughter feels differently. Sarah said: “He has saved so many lives and won loads of awards. We wanted to make him aware of how proud we are of him.
“Everyone thinks their dad is a superhero but I know my dad is one.”
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