John Heald spent most of his time as a young man living in Firth street, known as the jungle due to the nos of streets with animal names eg ape street, opposite Newton Picture House. He also lived on Oaktree Place on the new Gipton Garden Estate in 1940.
As a 14 year old, he began work as an apprentice motor mechanic at Tates Garage, but during the war, when he was 18, he took on a second role as a fire fighter. After some training at HQ Park Street, Leeds, he reported to The Gipton Fire station where he was on duty three times a week. John slept at the fire station, left for his day job at Tate and then returned to the fire station. John continued this hectic schedule until September 1944 when he was conscripted full time into the army. He spent the war in India and Malaya. He witnessed the Partition. He ran in the army, winning many races. He was a champion runner in the Battalion. He thanks his dog for keeping him fit.
On Saturday October 30th 2017, (close to the opening date of the Fire Station in 1937) as the oldest surviving fire fighter from Gipton, John returned to cut the ribbon at the opening of the brand new community venue that is now The Old Fire Station, Gipton.