A man who dedicated his life to saving and helping people at their most vulnerable has retired from the fire service after 42 years.

Mick Whitby, 62, who lives in Swaffham, began his career in Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service in 1980 at the age of 19.

He was inspired to join the service as his father was an on-call firefighter for 32 years.

"I've known nothing else from when I first had any recollections, having a bell in the house hearing the siren going off and my father leaving the house and responding to calls," he said.

"I saw the joy that he got out of it and the satisfaction and joined at the age of 19."

Mr Whitby spent 32 years in the retained service in Swaffham and surrounding areas before taking on a full-time role as watch manager in King's Lynn, a position he kept for 13 years.

Looking back at his career, the 62-year-old spoke of how "privileged" he felt to be able to visit places such as Sandringham House, Houghton Hall and Palm Paper.

He also spoke fondly of showing the Queen and Prince Philip around the then-new fire station in south Lynn.

"I was a bit nervous to start off with," said Mr Whitby. "We were presenting them to watch members as well as speaking about animal rescue, which the Queen and Duke were very interested in."

John Linden, west Norfolk station manager who worked with Mr Whitby for several years, said: "Mick has always come to work with a smile on his face and a positive attitude.

"He always makes people feel welcome with his calm and friendly manner and has a great sense of humour."

Tim Edwards, assistant chief fire officer, said: "He was the person I would ask first to have at my side, he was supportive and unafraid to challenge which kept us safe and able to achieve.

“His retirement will be a loss to the service but his legacy will live on and I wish him every success in his well-deserved retirement.”