GLOUCESTERSHIRE firefighter Mike Houghton has retired after nearly 50 years of service.

Mike, who lives in Tetbury with his wife Doreen, joined the fire service as a cadet in 1964 at the age of 16.

He has spent his entire career based in Gloucestershire, first working at Patchway fire station and eventually moving to Stroud in 1974.

Mike spent 24 years serving in Stroud and especially remembers attending a fire at Lloyds Bank and a ship fire at Sharpness Docks.

A dab hand at saving cattle from the canal near Stonehouse, Mike said his proudest moment came when be received his 40-year silver plate from Gloucestershire’s Lord Lieutenant.

"I think what I have enjoyed the most is the camaraderie of the job and serving the local community.," said Mike, who completed the last 15 years of his career as a retained firefighter in Tetbury - where he also served as a full time firefighter back in the 1960s and early 1970s.

"The most bizarre incident I ever attended was when the fire engine we were going to a call in collided with a caravan and going right through it."

In his retirement Mike plans to spend time with his wife, daughters and grandchildren as well as spending time on his allotment.

Chief fire officer Jon Hall said: “Few firefighters manage to maintain fitness and enthusiasm for nearly 50 years and I know that he will be sorely missed by colleagues.

"We wish him and his family a very long and happy retirement without the omnipresent burden of a pager.”