IN his career as a paramedic, Morpeth man Alan Robinson had to put all emotions aside when treating people in distress.
But he could not hold back the tears when he retired on Sunday.
The 60-year-old spent about half of his 31 years with the Northumbria (now North East) Ambulance Service at the Morpeth station.
Some of this time was spent as a trainer, which included preparing RAF personnel for a war zone, and he also wore riot gear in 1991 when he was sent to treat those injured in the violence at Meadowell, North Shields.
“To have a career as a paramedic you need to be mentally very strong because you bring it home every day,” he said.
“But if you can handle it, you can’t get a better job because you are in an incredible position to be able to save people’s lives.
“I take great pride in what I have achieved, but like my colleagues we don’t seek thanks or publicity when we help people — we just get on with our job.
“I was very emotional when I finished my final shift and it was lovely to see that many of my colleagues had decorated the station with signs and balloons when I returned. I admit I cried like a baby when I saw it all.”
Mr Robinson, who grew up in Westerhope, was a joiner by trade and worked all over the UK and in Germany until he decided to take up a profession where he could stay in a particular region.
He initially took police entrance exams but no officer posts were available in the Northumbria section at that time and so after going through six weeks of training, he started with the ambulance service on June 9, 1980 at the Throckley station.
The father-of-two was part of the group that went on the first ever paramedic course for Northumbria in 1984, which meant he was able to do procedures such as putting needles into veins and setting up drips.
As well as being one of the station officers at facilities across Northumberland and Newcastle, Mr Robinson was a qualified service instructor and went across the UK to train workers, ranging from ambulance procedures to fire bomb training.
And he was asked to work with RAF medics before they went to Bosnia during the Yugoslav Wars in the early 1990s, as well as personnel at RAF Boulmer. The service awarded him plaques for his efforts.
Mr Robinson said: “It was scary when I first started, but I soon learned the thing that takes your emotions away when dealing with someone in distress is your ability to do something to help.
“Your professionalism kicks in and all your focus is on that person.
“I really enjoyed my time as a trainer and it was a great privilege to be asked to train members of the RAF. I have a lot of great memories and I met some fantastic people.”
He was at the Morpeth station for a couple of years from 1989. He returned there in the late 1990s and stayed put for the rest of his career.
Mr Robinson, who has lived in Morpeth since 1988, is full of praise for his former workmates, saying: “As you are in teams of two in the ambulance, it’s a much harder job if you don’t get on with your colleague, but I have been blessed at Morpeth because they are all great guys.
“They have become or are becoming excellent paramedics and when they are on duty, the people living in the area they cover are in good hands.”
His wife Betty and daughters Claire, 25, and Heather, 21, will be among those at his retirement function in the town later this month.
Mr Robinson will now have more time for fly fishing and riding his Harley Davidson motorbike, but he will keep busy by doing some joinery and gardening work.
One of the paramedics at the Morpeth station, Heather Crosbie, said: “Alan will be a great miss to all the staff at the ambulance service and the community.
“He was something of a father figure and was always willing to pass on his knowledge and experience to his colleagues.
“As well as being a nice man, Alan was very good at his job.”