Mini skirts, pop music and winning the World Cup were some of the British highlights of the swinging sixties, however for one man this would be the moment he knew he would become a firefighter. 

Six decades on, 73-year-old Colin Andrews, recounts how he survived one fatal accident in the heart of Andover, suggesting that “if there is one event per lifetime which pure luck allowed you to survive, this was it for me”. 

In the first few weeks of college at the age of 16, Colin Andrews, from Andover, was on his way to the train station when a lorry and open back trailer lost control of its brakes. 

He told the Advertiser: “As I reached the Wolversdene Road junction I heard the continuous horn of a fast approaching vehicle from the hill to my right.

“It roared past me with the horn still sounding [and] I stood in shock watching the lorry swerving from side to side as it drove down the hill towards the traffic lights”.

Dust and debris rose up as the lorry collided with other vehicles stopped at the lights, with the front of shops being torn out on impact. The battle scene stood between Colin and the train station on Bridge Street. 

There was total silence as he approached the scene, with all but the sound of injured people calling out for help, which would have included him had he left the house a few seconds earlier.

“I stood next to the shattered lorry as the fire siren started in Old East Street fire station. It was a shocking scene.”

Andover Advertiser:

Andover was one of the first fire stations to be equipped to rescue tender due to the high rate of incidents along the A303 and A34 highways.

“Needless to say I missed my train to college that day but I knew how very lucky I was to be alive and exactly what I wanted to do with my life.” 

It was a couple of years later that Colin joined the fire brigade where he met best friend David Barlow after serving in the same unit together. 

Ex firefighter Rupert Bear, rekindled their friendship on social media, reflecting on the good old days working together in the mid ‘80s. 

He commented: “I have great memories of those times including the week long course in Moreton on Marsh with Geoff, Derek and Bob Martin. Brilliant memories of long ago but never forgotten.”

After 15 years of service, Colin continued to work as a influential person in town, working in Test Valley Borough Council as a Works Coordinator for a further 18 years.

Now living in Connecticut, USA, with his wife, the serviceman has embraced retirement with both hands, but still thinks fondly of his life in the UK.

“I miss Andover a great deal and the comradeship of the fire service but I have regular contact with some of my fellow partners.

“I highly recommend public service of this kind to any young person who feels the desire to do a helpful job for their local community. 

"This work truly highlights the extremes each and every day and adds an indescribable value to life.”