Wigan town centre fell quiet this afternoon as the flashing blue lights of ambulances – their blaring sirens silenced – moved slowly down the streets.
The ambulances surrounded the funeral procession of a dedicated paramedic, hardworking colleague, and beloved friend in the wake of tragedy.
The cortege carried Peter Millington who, at just 58, lost a gruelling seven-week battle with Covid-19 on March 5, 2021.
Peter’s death came after more than 34 years of dedicated work in North Ambulance Service (NWAS) – and mere months after he had to arrange a memorial for fellow paramedic Stuart Monk, who perished to Covid-19 in April, 2020.
During his career with the ambulance service, Peter worked as a paramedic at Wigan Ambulance Station, before becoming an operational trainer, NWAS has said.
Peter’s passion and skill for computers eventually led to him to move into the ‘information field’ as a capacity manager, firstly at the Broughton Emergency Operations Centre, then in Manchester working as part of the Regional Planning Team.
Today, March 25, his loved ones lined the streets as Peter made his final journey.
The funeral procession began outside Peter’s home in Gidlow Lane before pausing outside the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary, where the hospital’s ‘tree of hope’ was illuminated in ‘paramedic green’.
The cortege then made its way to the Wigan Fire and Ambulance Community Station in Newtown.
Here, tens of emergency service workers gathered to pay their respects, forming a sombre guard of honour around the coffin of one of their own, while flags flying at half-mast waved in the breeze.
A wreath was presented by senior service members, joining arrangements inside the hearse reminding those watching of Peter’s life outside of the ambulance service, with flowers reading ‘son’ and ‘dad’.
The motorcade, led by a soundless ambulance then proceeded on to Wigan Crematorium where Peter would be committed.
Among his many loved ones, Peter leaves behind his mother Betty, fiancée Lynn Caddick, children Alex and Sophie, and grandchildren Primrose and Reuben.
Shedding a tear for their ‘fantastic’ workmate, three of Peter’s longtime friends remembered him as they waited for the cortege to pass the ambulance station.
“We were friends as well as colleagues, we go back more than 20 years,” said NWAS and nursing colleagues Paula Giannasi, Wendy Giannasi, and Tracy McDonald.
“Peter was so nice and such good fun.
“He was a fantastic paramedic, he really cared about all of the patients, and he always had a smile on his face, always laughing.
“He always wanted to make people’s lives better.”
“What’s even more sad is that Peter arranged the memorial and tribute bench to his colleague Stuart Monk who also died from coronavirus,” added Tracy.
“Less than 12 months later, this has happened. At least they can now be together. They were 48 and 58, that’s no age to be taken away.”
Paula reminisced about Peter’s joy at getting engaged in September, saying: “He got engaged in September in the Cairngorms. He had all of his life to live with Lynn.
“Peter gave so much back, only to be taken away. He was a truly selfless person both in work and his personal life, he just wanted to save people during this pandemic. He deserved to live.
“I think that if he could say anything now, it would be to follow the rules because we have lost two important people here, colleagues and friends. They put their whole lives into helping other people and they have given their lives.”
Peter was also an avid charity fundraiser, said his friends, doing sponsored bike rides alongside his hobbies of skiing and fell walking as a lover of the outdoors.
Peter’s family and friends have been fundraising in his memory for Wigan Infirmary’s Intensive Care Unit, where medics worked ‘tirelessly’ treating him and other patients with ‘relentless dedication’.
The fundraiser has raised almost £2,000 so far.
If you would like to donate, go to the JustGiving page.