A 98-year-old man with dementia has been able to recall his time as a London ambulance worker half-a-century ago after paramedics visited his care home in a 1960s ambulance.

Albert Gibbs, a Normandy veteran from the Second World War, worked on ambulances in Ilford and Romford from 1965 until he retired in 1990.

He now lives at Elizabeth House care home in Benfleet with memories returning  — thanks to paramedics Craig Henty and Terence Thomson who visited him in an original 1967 Morris Wadhams ambulance and wearing period uniforms from his days as a medic.

“I wore the same uniform and cap,” Albert said when they showed up. “I recognise your badge, from the north-east sector where I worked. I was at Ilford, but sometimes in Romford.

“I delivered five babies and once saved a person who fell under a train.”

Ilford Recorder: A nostalgic trip down memory lane for Albert in a 1967 vintage London ambulanceA nostalgic trip down memory lane for Albert in a 1967 vintage London ambulance (Image: LAS)

Craig and Terence had researched material from Albert’s time in the London Ambulance Service and traced thank you letters from patients he had cared for. They also found snapshots of a works holiday he had organised.

“I arranged a weekend in Benidorm and got 43 people to go,” he remembers. “They were ambulance workers, nurses, doctors and their families.

“I have good memories of the ambulance service, like the time I rang the ambulance bell on the Woolwich ferry. It got me into some trouble!”

Craig looks after the historic collections at London Ambulance Service's HQ and arranged the visit to Albert’s care home in the vintage vehicle.

He sat with him in the back of the ambulance for a chat and it felt as if they had “just finished a job together”.

Craig said: “His mannerism and familiarity with the vehicle are like someone who works in an ambulance, even resting his feet on the rail in front of him which is exactly what the crew would do.”

People with dementia can benefit from visual and sensory cues to stimulate their brain, according to care home head nurse Tracy McGuinness.

She explained: “Reliving experiences keeps the brain engaged and can reduce any cognitive decline, by keeping the mind ticking. It was emotional to see Albert recall his time as an ambulance worker.”

He was in the ambulance service for 25 years, which his daughter Elaine Dettmar described as “a huge part of his life”. The visit helped him re-live it with memories coming out as he talked.

Albert became a medic in 1965, the year Greater London was established and London Ambulance Service set up from nine existing services that merged.

It had a fleet of 1,000 vehicles and 2,500 staff. Albert was part of that huge team.