HEATHROW’s longest-serving firefighter is to retire this year after 40 years of service.

Andy ‘Peter Pan’ Preston, 62, of Windsor, initially began his career as a firefighter in the Royal Air Force, before leaving to work at Heathrow in 1977. At the time the airport fire crews, referred to as the BAA Firefighters at the time, also operated ambulances.

Originally, Mr Preston had quite a different career in mind: “I initially wanted to be a police dog handler, but when I was told by the RAF recruitment office in 1972 that I was not big enough.

“By chance, the officer was himself an ex-RAF firefighter. In the end, he helped me make the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Mr Preston, recalling the changes he had seen over his career, said: “When I first started we were using Nubian major fire tenders, and now we’re using the state-of-the-art Rosenbauer Panthers.

“Operating the ambulance section was also a really challenging and rewarding job, as we’d be busy helping out passengers with medical conditions, who were unable to get on and off aircraft, as well as assisting emergency patients.”

Mr Preston was one of the firefighters who gave the last Concorde flight at the airport a water-cannon salute. He said this was his favourite memory from his career: “Concorde flights had just started at the airport when I began working here and it was as if the whole airport stopped whenever it took off and simply marvelled at it.

“Needless to say, I’ll always remember being on duty when they flew the Concorde fleet for the last time at the airport.”

Nicknamed ‘Peter Pan’ by his colleagues because he ‘never grew up’ despite his long tenure, Mr Preston isn’t looking to settle down or retire. Mr Preston is looking forward to marrying his fiancee Susan in May, and finding a new career.