Around 250 family members, colleagues and friends of former National Ambulance Resilience Unit (NARU) employee Peter Kendall turned out on November 21st 2012 for a full Ambulance Service funeral held in his honour.
Mourners at St Peter de Merton Church in Bedford watched as the funeral procession arrived at the church after travelling from the East of England Ambulance Service. It was led by two ambulance motorcycle outriders and a vintage Bedford ambulance vehicle. Colleagues from ambulance services across the country formed a guard of honour for Peter and a Guardsman played the Last Post.
The congregation heard how committed ambulance man Peter – who was 63 when he died at his home earlier in November – joined the ambulance service 48 years ago, where he continued to work throughout his life. During this distinguished career Peter held several important posts and worked for a number of ambulance-related organisations, culminating in his role with NARU as an ambulance adviser to the Department of Health in London.
His brother gave an emotional speech explaining how Peter’s fascination with the ambulance service began at the tender age of seven, when he fell ill with acute appendicitis and was carried down several flights of stairs from the family flat by an ambulance man, to be whisked to hospital for a life-saving operation. Upon waking, his first words to his mother were, “I want to be an ambulance man when I grow up!” True to form, Peter delivered his first baby at the age of 16 and never looked back.
Others to speak included East of England Ambulance Service’s Steven Moore, who was mentored by Peter and who raised a laugh when he reminded those gathered of Peter’s lifelong Dad’s Army-inspired catchphrase, “You stupid boy!”
NARU Deputy Director Mike Shanahan spoke of Peter as a “true gentleman” while Chief Executive of East of England Ambulance Service, Hayden Newton, said: “Peter showed the professionalism and dedication of somebody giving their life to their job. He was a man to have by your side. I think he has received the turnout he has today because of the sheer respect that people had for him.
He added: “I recently went through his personal files and literally couldn’t count the number of ‘thank you’ letters he had received from people as well as 13 formal commendations praising him for the work he has done. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues.”
Aside from family and friends, Peter’s funeral was attended by representatives of a broad range of NHS ambulance services, St John Ambulance workers and other voluntary bodies, as well as a number of colleagues from the Department of Health.
It is fair to say that Peter Kendall will be very sadly missed indeed and his passing is a loss to the whole ambulance service.
[Images courtesy of Bedfordshire on Sunday]