The 54-year-old and his wife Angela were due to swap their home in Moray for Algorfa in the South of Spain before the coronavirus crisis placed everything on hold.
With their dream move delayed, Paul [pictured] has postponed his retiral from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and will remain on-call as Watch Commander with the retained crew at Forres Community Fire Station.
Yorkshireman Paul recently retired from his day-job after 35 years as a firefighter with the Royal Air Force and Ministry of Defence fire and rescue services, and has protected his local community as on-call firefighter at Forres since 2006 [full crew pictured below].
“We were all set for the move – we’d bought our new home in Aglorfa and our things were already packed to be collected this week – when everything just came to a halt,” Paul explained.
“I’d retired from my job with the Defence service after a fantastic career, and my notice was already in to leave and finish up with the retained service.
“Obviously it’s been a very disappointing and uncertain time, but ultimately I couldn’t sit at home and feel sorry myself.
“I couldn’t leave the station – and leave my mates – short at this time.
“Four of these lads are posties, for example, and they’re still out working hard at their day job while remaining on call.
“Angela and I will make our move eventually, but until then I am in a position to help the crew, so it was a no-brainer to withdraw my notice papers and get the battery back in the pager.”
Firefighting is in the family for Paul, with his dad and granddad both serving on the frontline back home in West Yorkshire before him.
He continued: “It’s all I ever wanted to do as a boy, and all I’ve ever wanted to do since.
“From my dad and granddad before me, that’s now 81 years’ continuous service between us.
“I’ve been very lucky, and have loved my time with the Defence service [pictured below], and with my crew at Forres.
“I’ll be gutted when the time comes to finish up – but until then, I’m fit and able and here to do my bit.”
Area Commander Martin Tait, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Local Senior Officer for Aberdeenshire and Moray, thanked Paul and all frontline personnel for their commitment during this pandemic.
He said: “We as a Service and our emergency service partners face an unprecedented challenge during this national crisis.
“To minimise the impact on our emergency response during the course of this pandemic, we are looking at a number of ways to ensure we are able to cover any predicted staff shortages and maintain resilience.
“We have also seen a number of individuals, such as Paul, offer to postpone their much-earned retirement to continue working to protect their communities through this difficult period.
“I must thank Paul for his unwavering commitment and service to the Forres and wider Moray community.
“More than ever, firefighters are being asked to do a difficult job in difficult conditions, and the dedication and spirit shown by Paul and others like him will help us to continue to provide a resilient emergency service throughout Scotland.”