A pensioner is celebrating 30 years as a volunteer with the East Midlands Ambulance Service, having driven thousands of people in Amber Valley and Erewash to hospital appointments.
Ron Haslam, a 75-year-old former taxi driver known as ‘Rocket Ron’, has given much of his spare time to the EMAS volunteer car service since it launched in September 1988.
Despite recently becoming a great-grandfather, Ron has no plans to give up the role.
He said: “I just love it – they’ll have to stop me if they want me to give up.
“I get greater job satisfaction from this than I did in any other job that I’ve done. When I look back, I wish I had joined the service sooner.”
Ron first started supporting the NHS in the 1980s as part of a taxi service for nurses performing home visits.
Over three decades, Ron has escorted patients in need of mental health support, dementia day care, physiotherapy, dialysis, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
He has also driven hundreds of miles so patients can reach specialists appointments in places such as London and Cambridge. Ron, from Little Eaton, said: “Many of the patients we pick up are very poorly and can feel quite vulnerable, and they are relying on you to look after them. When you drop them off at home or at the clinic and they smile and say ‘thank you’, that makes everything worth it.”
He added: “We’ve always been kept busy as volunteers which is lovely, and I often pick up the same patients on a regular basis so I get to know them. It’s a privilege to be a small part of their recovery.
“I’ve been doing this so long that a lady got in my car the other day and said ‘you used to take my mum to hospital.’”
EMAS spokesman Joy Weldin said: “Ron’s care and kindness has undoubtedly made difficult journeys to and from hospital appointments just that little bit better.
“We’re very lucky to have him and I would like to say a huge thank you to him for volunteering for us for 30 years.”
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer driver can contact 0300 3003434 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.