A firefighter who took part in the Remembrance Day march at Whitehall this weekend has said the humbling experience was the ‘honour of his life’.
Station Manager Nick Gayton was selected to represent Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service at the ceremony and parade at the Cenotaph on Sunday (November 12) – one of more than 150 members of the Civilian Services Contingent made up of people from across the fire service, police, ambulance, prison service, coastguard and more.
Nick has worked for Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service for 15 years, and works countywide in the Joint Operations Team alongside colleagues from Northamptonshire Police. He has had since August to prepare himself for the event when he was notified that he had been selected, but said the experience was even more memorable than he could have imagined.
He said: “I’ve represented the Fire Service at local ceremonies before, but nothing on this scale, and it’s the first time I had been to London for the Remembrance Parade.
“It’s difficult to describe in words what the experience was like, words cannot do justice to the mixture of emotions that come over you during the ceremony.
“You try and take everything in as it’s happening, and there are parts that you do that you can remember seeing happen on the TV, but when the silence hits you it’s incredibly emotional – you could hear a pin drop in Whitehall during the ceremony.”
Nick had arrived in London on Saturday evening, where he took part in a few practice drills and a two-hour briefing on how the ceremony would be conducted.
Sunday morning was an early start, leaving for Whitehall by coach at 6.30am and taking part in drills for much of the morning. From there he took part in the march to the Cenotaph as part of the formal guard of honour, before the Ceremony, where wreaths were laid by King Charles III and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
The Civilian Services Contingency were the last to leave the Cenotaph, with Nick eventually relieved of his duties at 1pm.
His appearance at the Cenotaph marks the end of a successful few weeks for Nick, who was recently given a Chief Fire Officer Commendation for helping to rescue an elderly lady from a fire that was engulfing her bungalow in Burton Latimer last November.
Nick was also proud to take part in the ceremony due to his family links to the military. He added: “My brother-in-law has just left the Navy, my grandfather was a serving Grenadier Guard, and I did also have distant relatives who fought and died in some of the wars that we remember.
“All I can say is that it was the honour of my life to take part in the ceremony, and I’m massively humbled by the whole experience.”