Friends and family have paid tribute to an 87-year-old man from Long Melford who devoted his life to the ambulance service.
Bill Tillett, who served at numerous stations across Essex for more than 25 years, has been described as a role model by his former colleagues.
Having suffered with his health in recent years, Mr Tillett died after collapsing at home on January 20.
Born in Felixstowe in 1927, he later moved to Long Melford.
He joined the ambulance service in Essex in 1964 when it was run by the county council and started his career in Colchester before working at stations in Weeley, Clacton and Harwich.
He married his wife, Barbara, 75, a former ambulance liaison officer, in 1991.
She said: “He loved being in the service – it was his life. His job meant everything to him.
“At work, he was very regimental. He didn’t like any injustices and, when there were any grievances, they would send Bill down.”
At 6ft 4in tall, Mr Tillett had a presence but was described as a “gentle giant” by his wife, who said he was a relaxed character and a fun-loving grandfather.
He was conscripted into the British Army’s Essex Regiment in 1945 and later served in the colonial police in Israel and Palestine – both roles that had a bearing on his career in the ambulance service.
He was also an aircraft enthusiast despite his active fear of flying.
As well as his family, work colleagues have paid tribute to his years of dedicated work to the ambulance service.
Shani Nicholls, duty locality officer for Colchester, who worked with Mr Tillett, said: “Bill was a respected station officer who was well-regarded by all who worked alongside him.
“He ensured that everyone worked to the highest standards and was an ambulance officer who worked hard to provide an excellent service to the public.”
Dr Anthony Marsh, chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, added: “Bill was a role model for me when I was an operational technical officer and paramedic more than 25 years ago.
“I would like to pass on my sincere condolences to his family.”