It’s nearly 30 years since the Kegworth air disaster but Mike Worsdale remembers it all very clearly after being one of the first members of the emergency services called to the scene.
The former Melton Probus Club president, who was also once a police sergeant in the town, was at home at the time when he got the call about the terrible event, which claimed the lives of 47 people and left aircraft wreckage strewn across the M1.
“Pc Budd rang from the station and said ‘we’ve got a plane crash, can you go?’,” recalled Mike (71).
“I just slipped my yellow police coat over my clothes and drove there in my own car.
“The plane was in three pieces and there were a lot of bodies. They put the dead by the side of the road.
“We soon got it all organised. You just did your job.”
There was an initial suspicion, Mike revealed, that the Boeing 737 had been downed by a terrorist attack because it happened shortly after the airliner exploded over Lockerbie killing 270 people.
As a traffic officer he had come up with a plan to reopen the motorway earlier than planned a few days after the crash but it was scuppered by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who was visiting the scene.
Mike said: “I was explaining the plan and Mrs Thatcher just said ‘no, you won’t be doing that’. She was worried the plane wreckage was still there and people would be looking at it as they drove past so we had to wait until it was taken away to reopen the M1.”
Leafing through a scrapbook containing cuttings from press reports, Mike remembered the day he joined the force in June 1964 as a fully-fledged constable with the collar number 11.
He was stationed at Syston and policing was very different from today with beat officers patrolling in every village but they had very little help from technology.
“There were no mobile phones, of course, and no radios, so we had to make sure we were at certain phone boxes at certain times so the station could call us for an update on what we were doing,” said Mike, who lives in Melton Road, Syston.
“If you arrested someone in the street you would shout to someone in a shop to phone the police so you could get some back-up.
“In a rural area you would have to try to find a phone box, or just walk with the person if you’d just made an arrest.”
Mike was a constable for 14 years before moving into traffic - one of the youngest to do so in the Leicestershire force.
He enjoyed being able to drive a Jaguar 3.4 litre in pursuit of motoring offenders and criminals.
After being promoted to Sergeant at Wigston in 1978 he recalls having to show his mettle by confronting a notorious crime family.
Mike said: “One of the officers said they daren’t go as they’d tried to arrest them before but got thrown out.
“So I said I would do it myself. They let me in and after that I was the only police officer the family would speak to.
“I’ve always followed this thing my dad said, ‘treat people how you would expect to be treated yourself’.”
Mike spent time at Melton police station in the 1980s, and remembers serious care accidents at Frisby Top and problems with gypsy cart races on the busy A46 near Six Hills. He was also involved in an investigation into one of the most significant crimes in British legal history - the rape and murder of 15-year-old Lynda Mann, at Narborough in 1983.
Colin Pitchfork was eventually convicted of the killing and that of Dawn Ashworth - the first person ever to be trapped by DNA evidence.
Mike recalled: “I was at my desk at eight one morning and the call came through that we had a murder at Narborough. I saw the girl lying in the undergrowth and I remember her clothes being stacked neatly by the side of her body. David Baker was a brilliant detective and it was no surprise he managed to catch him.”
Mike, who was in the force for 29 years, is enjoying his retirement with his partner of more than 50 years, Barbara Thompson.
Would he like to be policing now? “No, there is too much red tape in the force now and they don’t have the manpower we used to have,” he added.