A FIREFIGHTER who has served his local community for almost three decades is retiring.

Darren Thornley, 50, will retire today after 25 years in service at Farnworth Fire Station.

His career with the fire service started in Leigh in 1992, before moving to his local station in Farnworth three years later.

The dad-of-two said: “I’m working in my local community which is what I always wanted to do – that’s why I wanted to move to the Farnworth station.

“There’s been a lot of changes in the community, and within the job, over the years.

“It’s been a great career, I’ve really enjoyed myself . One of the best parts is that I’m working where I live and helping out the people that live nearby," he added.

“There’s been so many jobs, fires, accidents, animal rescues – it’s been so varied, we don’t know what’s coming from one day to the next, it’s not your average nine to five.”

Mr Thornley has been called out to a number of high-profile incidents, including the 1996 Manchester bombing.

He was also given a chief officer’s commendation for his work at the Jackson Street fire in Walkden in December 2017, which killed mum-of-six Michelle Pearson and four of her children – Demi, Brandon, Lacie, and Lia.

Mr Thornley, who went to Harper Green School, joined the Royal Engineers aged 16, serving in the first Gulf War, before leaving the Army to become a firefighter.

Although he hasn’t been able to make too many plans due to the pandemic, he plans to spend time with wife Andrea, 15-year-old son Jake, and visit 28-year-old daughter Abigail, who lives nearby in Manchester.

He said: “I’m quite sorry to be going, it’s sort of crept up on me. Retirement was always something that was in the future and now it’s here.

“I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself.

“I’ve got my motorcycle and bought myself a campervan – I’m sure whatever I do there’ll be lots of biking, camping, and beer.”