Firefighter extends his retirement to complete animal project close to his heart

A firefighter praised for his passion and dedication to his work demonstrated just that by extending his retirement date to complete an animal project close to his heart.

Neil Hoskin, the Dogsthorpe firefighter instrumental in introducing pet-friendly animal masks to Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, extended his retirement in order to deliver his final training session to crews at Papworth Everard Fire Station last night (Tues).

Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland presented Neil with a figurine to mark his retirement after 26 years’ service in front of friends and colleagues, firefighters from both Gamlingay and Papworth Everard Fire Stations and Neil’s wife, Nikki.

“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 the Service for more than 15 years and I have never seen anything different from him. He always gives 100 per cent.”

CFO Strickland said Neil had even extended the date of his retirement in order to deliver his final training session to firefighters – marking the milestone completion of the Smokey Paws animal masks project, with now sees every station across CFRS with a set of the pet-friendly masks used in animal rescues.

“Neil is the sort of person who makes up the Service. He is a real character and he will be missed and I for one will be sorry to see him go,” he added.

Area Commander Maurice Moore said: “Neil is certainly a unique character and he has done a fantastic job over the years and I have the greatest respect for him.”

Neil, 47, who lives in Crowland, Lincolnshire, joined Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service aged 21 and spent time at Huntingdon, Stanground and Dogsthorpe fire stations, and was 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.

“I joined the Service to help people and then moved onto 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 said.

Neil is 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.