THERE literally was not one dry eye in the station when long-serving Bolton-based firefighter Mick Massey retired after more than 30 years with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.
Mick, 53, who has served his entire career from Bolton North Community Fire Station in Crompton Way, received his official certificate from Deputy County Fire Officer Paul Argyle as colleagues, family and friends packed into the station to see his last parade on Sunday, April 30, 2017.
Firefighter Mick Massey and Deputy County Fire Officer Paul Argyle
But it was extra-special and unexpected guest Finlay Collins who stole the show by walking into the ceremony to say an emotional farewell.
Mick saved Finlay’s life when he was hit by a car and a van as he crossed Crompton Way on his scooter close to the station. The family had kept in touch with their ‘hero’ but last time Mick had seen Finlay he was in a wheelchair and not expected to walk again.
He said: "It was very humbling. I wasn’t expecting to see Finlay at all. I had no idea. Then when I saw him walking I thought, don’t cry, but it was very emotional so I shed a tear or two. Finlay was in a critical state after the accident and it didn’t look good so he has done really well to recover. Seeing him capped a wonderful retirement parade.”
Finlay’s mum Michelle also paid tribute to Mick during the event. She said: “My baby boy wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Mick, he would have bled to death. He saved my child and I have him because of his actions that day.”
Mick was also emotional at the thought of leaving the Service and the station which he described as “my home for 30 years”.
He added: “I have worked with a great set of people and I will remember all the highs and all the lows with tears of joy and sadness. I’ve had such a fantastic time here - it's been great.”
Colleagues including Watch Manager Jay Jones paid tribute to Mick’s active role in making the station somewhere crew could enjoy being at work and described how the firefighter had played a leading in role in providing a garden and ‘the best gym in GMFRS’. In the past, Mick had event set up a volley ball court.
Mick said: “I have always been proactive and tried to make the station a better place. I was the youngest once and I scrounged everything for the gym but once it was up and running it was a massive asset to the station and a real bonus for team morale.
“I have been asked this week ‘Mick - what's your proudest moment?’ and I went quiet. I don't know. Is it the moment I received my letter to join the Service or, on first day, when I was bouncing off the walls with excitement? Was it when I received my uniform and thought ‘wow look at me!’ or my passing out parade, when my family watched me finally getting somewhere? There have been house rescues, working with my team, but the 50th anniversary of this station was a real high point for me. It was really hard work but when I came in and saw everybody I felt phenomenal. I can't think of another profession where you could do all this. I had a lump in my throat the whole day.
“It breaks my heart to leave but I ought to go and I would just say be proud every time you pull your shirt on. Be proud. It’s been a pleasure.”