A FORMER retained fireman has this week received two long service awards in recognition of his decades of dedication.

Barry Appleton, 55, of Basingbourne Road, Fleet, was recently presented with an Imperial Service Medal to thank him for his 36 years of loyalty and hard work at Pyestock, where he worked as an electrician.

The gleaming silver medal came shortly after he was awarded a Hampshire Fire and Rescue Long Service Award for his excellent efforts as a retained fireman in Fleet, where he gave 24 years' unstinting service.

Mr Appleton joined the National Turbine Establishment at Pyestock, now QinetiQ, back in 1966 and enjoyed every minute of his time there working on aircraft engines.

Thanks to the shift patterns at Pyestock, Mr Appleton was free to provide cover for the Fire Service during the day — a position for which it needed cover at the time.

His life as a retained fireman began thanks to a couple of his workmates at Pyestock who worked as retained firemen.

They introduced him to the fire crews and he never looked back.

Mr Appleton said: "It was hard and dirty old work but it was most enjoyable. You can find great comradeship in the fire force."

Mr Appleton was among the thousands of workers at Pyestock to be made redundant, and although he was disappointed to leave the medal came as a pleasant surprise.

He said: "It was really out of the blue, I couldn't believe my eyes. I was not only leaving, I was being made redundant, and so it took the edge off leaving the place.

"It came just two days before I was due to leave, so it was a lovely surprise. I remember when I started at Pyestock, there were about 4,500 of us and the atmosphere was great.

"I have really enjoyed both of my careers and it is very nice to receive these medals — I now have something to show from both of my careers."