A war veteran who is believed to be the world’s oldest retired firefighter has celebrated his 108th birthday – with a visit from a fire engine.
Evergreen Joe Dixon celebrated his special day style on 1October when the crew of firefighters turned up at his Northumberland care home.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service both made the trip to wish him well and bring him a birthday cake.
Young-at-heart Joe served on the front line for 27 years in what was formerly the Newcastle City Police, Fire Service before retiring in 1964.
Now, 57 years later, Joe still regularly visits operational firefighters across the region to pass on his knowledge and expertise.
The World War Two veteran, who served in RAF Bomber Command, currently enjoys his retirement at Scarborough Court in Cramlington.
Joe said: ‘I began working in the Newcastle City Police, Fire and Rescue service in 1937, I lived in one of the 27 flats in the married quarters with my wife Lydia for 27 years, where we raised two children.
‘I have always felt very important in my job. The Fire and rescue service has always made me feel very important to them.
‘One fond memory I have is on my 100th birthday, I had a visit from the chief fire officer and his crew to mark the celebration and they have visited me wherever I have lived on every birthday since.
‘Being at Scarborough Court for my 108th birthday, the day could not have gone any better. I am always treated very well and I am so grateful for all the support I received, I was surrounded by lots of family and friends.’
Some of the region’s top fire chiefs have also praised Joe for his life-saving efforts over the last century – after helping to bring in his 108th birthday in style.
Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther, of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, today thanked Joe for his life-saving efforts over the last century. He said: ‘I have had the pleasure of meeting Joe a number of times in recent years and he is a fantastic man who has lived a fantastic life.
‘He is an inspiration to myself and the whole of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and is welcome at our headquarters any time.
‘Joe’s commitment to keeping our communities safe typifies everything that our organisation stands for and I am delighted we were able to be there to wish him a happy birthday.’
Stephen Kennedy, Group Manager for Emergency Response, of Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, also paid tribute to Joe and said he was delighted the Service were able to support his big day. He said: ‘Mr Dixon is an amazing man with a wealth of experience and knowledge of the fire service that our firefighters were lucky enough to hear when they visited him to celebrate his birthday recently.
‘The service that Mr Dixon has provided to his communities over the years is awe inspiring and we feel incredibly lucky to have him as a Northumberland resident.’
Stacey Hunter, Activities Coordinator at Scarborough Court, said: ‘It was such a privilege being able to be part of such a kind and humble man’s birthday celebrations. Joe is a kind and caring man, never a bad word to say about anyone.
‘Seeing Joe celebrate his 108th birthday is such an honour and to see the happiness on his face when the fire and rescue service turned up along with his family was such a heart-warming sight.’
Joe was born in Walker, Newcastle, in 1913 and before becoming a firefighter in 1937 he worked at a butcher’s shop.
He was able to work his way up to eventually become a sub-officer before volunteering alongside three of his firefighter colleagues in 1943 to assist with the war effort.
After the conclusion of the war in 1945, Joe returned to work as a firefighter where he discovered two of his colleagues had not made it home.
He continues to be a regular visitor at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue headquarters in Washington where a special ceremony was held in his honour to mark his 100th birthday.