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Firefighting couple retire together after combined 62 years of service

PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 November 2018

Mark Young and Ann Giles are retiring from the London Fire Brigade after a combined service of 62 years. Picture: Ken Mears

Mark Young and Ann Giles are retiring from the London Fire Brigade after a combined service of 62 years. Picture: Ken Mears

Archant

A couple with a combined 62 years in the fire service have hung up their uniform for the final time.

Mark Young and Ann Giles are retiring from the London Fire Brigade after a combined service of 62 years. Pictured with Station Manager Martin Knight and the rest of the watch.Mark Young and Ann Giles are retiring from the London Fire Brigade after a combined service of 62 years. Pictured with Station Manager Martin Knight and the rest of the watch.

Mark Young and Ann Giles first met at East Ham’s fire safety office in September 1989.

Ann said: “We got on well, started seeing each other and that was it really.”

The 57-year-old moved into the control room answering emergency calls while Mark’s firefighting dream came true in 1993.

The young couple moved in with Ann’s parents in Roman Road, East Ham, after children Tom and Molly were born. They now live in Benfleet.

Ann and Mark in their younger years. Picture: ANN GILES/MARK YOUNGAnn and Mark in their younger years. Picture: ANN GILES/MARK YOUNG

Mark, stationed at Plaistow for the last 17 years, was one of the hundreds of firefighters who tackled the Grenfell Tower blaze which claimed the lives of 72 people in June 2017.

“We went in a lot later. We did what we had to do. It’s only afterwards that you think about it.

“Firefighters have their own way of dealing with things. You’ve got to switch off at the end of the day otherwise you can’t do your job,” Mark, 55, said.

Ann always had confidence Mark would be safe in spite of the dangers.

Ann and Mark in their younger years. Picture: ANN GILES/MARK YOUNGAnn and Mark in their younger years. Picture: ANN GILES/MARK YOUNG

She said: “Because we’re both in the job we can relate to each other. There’s pressures on both sides.

“In the control room we get some horrible calls with people screaming, trapped in buildings. But we get funny calls.”

This included when someone called pretending to be popstar Michael Jackson.

On their retirement plans, Strictly fan Ann wants to take up dancing while Mark is keen on kayaking. They also want to explore the country in their Volkswagen camper van.

But Ann joked the couple’s children were a bit disappointed about their retirement.

“They love telling people mum and dad are in the fire service. They’re very proud of us,” she said.

On what she will miss, Ann said: “It’s the people I work with. They are the best.

“It’s rewarding when you know you’ve helped someone. It can be hard but we’ve loved every minute.”

Mark added: “It will feel strange. I’ll miss people and the job, but my time has come. I’ve done my bit.”

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