DEDICATED Oldham firefighter Chris Dean is looking forward to exchanging his protective helmet and clothing for golf clubs.

For 50-year-old Chris is retiring from his roll in Red Watch at Oldham Community Fire Station tomorrow after 30 years' service on Friday (November 13).

It was back in 1990 that he quit his job as a trainee manager at Sainsbury's to join Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

Before that, he had worked as building labourer and always had liking for manual work.

"Joining the fire service was a calling, and I knew I didn't want to be working in a supermarket indefinitely."

After applying successfully to join up, Chris, from Whitefield near Bury, joined Red Watch and has been part of that team ever since.

"There are moments of high adrenalin in a job like this, but we are always busy doing things round the station.

"It's always been about helping people and making a difference. I would encourage any young person thinking of a career in the fire service to just go for it.

"For me that actual job of turning out to incidents and helping people is one of the best feelings you can have."

But it's not just as firefighter Chris has been helped the community.

In 2018 he was part of the Blazing Saddles cycling team which pedalled all the way to Gibraltar to raise more than £40,000 for four charities – MIND, the Fire Fighters Charity, SANDS, and Cyclists Fighting Cancer.

That effort took the total raised for good causes by the group - including many of Chris's colleagues - to more than £100,000

Blazing Saddles were aiming to do a similar cycle ride again this year - to Pisa in Italy - but it had to be called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chris added: "As soon as it's possible, we will going ahead with our Pisa ride, but in the meantime I intend to play a bit more golf than I have been able to in recent years."