Dozens of firefighters and paramedics lined the streets outside Swindon Ambulance Station this morning, ahead of former paramedic Ray Saunders’ funeral.
Queens Drive was closed in one direction as a cortege of emergency service vehicles, including two vintage ambulances, ambulance motorbikes and fire engines traveled from the County Ground car park through the ambulance station and onward to Kingsdown Crematorium.
The 68-year-old served as a paramedic in the Wiltshire area between 1976 and 2015. He spent more than four decades saving lives, even on Wiltshire Air Ambulance for some of his career.
Ray was the seventh person to become a paramedic, on qualifying he was given the registration number 007, which became the subject of many jokes.
A spokesperson for South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said: ““Ray joined Wiltshire Ambulance Service in February 1976 and retired in March 2015, after 43 years of service to the Ambulance Service and the people of Swindon.
“Initially when Ray joined he worked on Patient Transport Services to convey patients to hospital for appointments. He trained as an ambulance man at Bishop Waltham and qualified a year later. Ray went on to train as an instructor in Ambulance Aid, and taught many new staff.
“When paramedic training began, Ray was at the front and on qualifying his registration was 007, which became the subject of many jokes.
“Ray was an exceptional paramedic and instructor. He had a great sense of humour, and was a pleasure to work. He always lost his keys, and he excelled in cooking a fried breakfast.
“Ray will be sadly missed by all who knew him.”
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