4:30pm Wednesday 1st May 2013
TRIBUTES have been paid to a Hampshire pensioner killed when the ambulance taking him to hospital was involved in a crash.
Retired army officer Francis Ironside, known as Jim, was being conveyed to Southampton General Hospital when the vehicle veered off the road and smashed into a tree.
The driver, Gillian Randall, 42, of Newlands Copse, Blackfield, also died in the crash.
Two people accompanying Mr Ironside in the back of the ambulance - his son David, 64, and paramedic Richard Riley, 32, were both seriously injured.
Jim Ironside, 88, of Harts Way in Everton, near Lymington, had heart trouble.
One of his neighbours, Peter Osman, said he saw the ambulance collect the pensioner last Friday at the start of its ill-fated journey.
He added: “When I heard about the accident I realised from the timings and everything else that it must have been the same vehicle. It was quite a shock and made me feel sick.
“Jim was a very nice man - very genuine and always pleasant to talk to.
“He had been ill for a couple of years but had a very devoted family who really looked after him.”
Another neighbour said: “I always got on well with him. A few years ago I had to go to hospital three times and he very kindly drove me.”
Mr Ironside spent 26 years in the Royal Engineers, joining in 1941 and rising from Sapper to the rank of Captain.
Arthur Dixon, chairman of the New Forest branch of the Royal Engineers' Association, said: “He was a very affable gentleman, always willing to help.
“He'd been housebound for the past year. We paid him a goodwill visit just before Christmas and took him a big box of chocolates.”
Neighbours said Mr Ironside was a dog lover who used to take in the occasional stray.
As reported in the Daily Echo, his son David is chairman of Hordle Parish Council and a member of New Milton Rugby Club. Both he and the paramedic remain in a serious condition in hospital.
The accident happened on the A337 between Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst.
A 25-year-old Brockenhurst man driving a blue Seat Alhambra, which was involved in the accident, was arrested on suspicion of driving without due care and attention and bailed until July 29.
On Monday about 50 colleagues of Gillian Randall, many carrying floral tributes, gathered at the crash site to remember their fallen colleague.
Will Hancock, chief executive of South Central Ambulance Service, told them: “Gill died doing the job she loved.”
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