West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service Deputy Chief Fire Officer Neil Stocker has announced that he will be retiring in December after 29 years of service.
Neil has served with West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service since joining as a firefighter at Crawley Fire Station in June 1991.
Since then he has served as both Group Manager, Area Manager, and Assistant Chief Fire Officer before becoming the Deputy Chief Fire Officer and Director of Public Protection in 2017.
He also served as acting Chief Fire Officer from June until September 2019, during which he steered the service diligently through some incredibly difficult times.
Chief Fire Officer, Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, said: “I had hoped this moment wouldn’t come quite so soon - I have really enjoyed working with Neil and I will certainly miss having him as my deputy.
“In his 29 years of service, Neil has become a highly respected and much loved member of our service, working tirelessly to help keep the residents of West Sussex safe.
“It is thanks to his exceptional dedication that laid the foundation for much of the improvement work we find ourselves working towards today.
“His work with the Sussex Resilience Forum, especially in the wake of COVID-19, has only cemented his role within the community as a reliable and safe pair of hands to go to in the moment of crisis.
“On a personal level, I could not have asked for a warmer welcome to the service when I joined last autumn than the one I received from Neil.
“I am thoroughly going to miss working with him, and I know that you will all join me in wishing him well in his retirement.”
West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Fire & Rescue and Communities, Duncan Crow, said: “Neil has been a real asset to our fire and rescue service and has served the people of West Sussex with distinction. I know that he will be missed by people from all levels of the service. I would like to wish him all the very best in his retirement.”