BISHOPS Castle last Friday bid a final fond farewell to one of its best known and easily recognised residents with the funeral of Mary Elizabeth Pullen.

Known to everyone as Mary, she was best known as a member of the local West Midlands Ambulance Service's First Responders for 14 years and was often seen in her distinctive red uniform responding to emergencies even though she she was never able to drive.

The Co-op service awarded her a car and a volunteer driver in recognition of her services as she was often seen "hitch hiking" to the emergency scenes.

Mary received an outstanding achievement award from West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust Excellence in the Community Awards in November 2014 and a WMAS spokesperson this week said: "Mary was one of the best known CFRs in Shropshire who many staff came across during her time helping countless patients in their hour of need.

"She was certainly memorable being our only CFR who didn’t drive. However, that never dimmed her enthusiasm and she would always find a way to get places; sometimes with a fellow driving but it wasn’t unusual to find her commandeering a vehicle from a local resident; indeed she once got a ride on a tractor - come hell or high water she would get to the call! "She really was a one of a kind and our thoughts are with her family and friends at this time.”

Her 2014 Citation read: "Mary Pullen has reached almost legendary status in south Shropshire. Mary has been one of the most famous of our CFRs over the years with her unique way of responding in and around Bishops Castle. Mary, who doesn’t drive, gets a call and flags down a motorist in the village to take her to the scene. She has been practicing her art for many years and has been featured on TV and in the media on numerous occasions."

Mary leaves four sons, Phillip Evans, Andrew Evans, and twins Richard and James Pullen; as well as a granddaughter Lily.

Mary was born at The Old School House, Bishops Castle in 1943, the daughter of Ivy and Ben Evans. The family lived at Broughton Farm, but later moved to Castle Green in Bishops Castle and as a teenager she became Carnival Quen and met the young John Lennon at a Church Camp.

While working at the council offices in Ludlow in the 1970s, she met electrician Michael Pullen on a blind date and went on to marry and raise a young family while also becoming engaged in community life including actively serving in the Red Cross and much later both became part of the First Responder scheme turning their knowledge of the area and skill of first aid into providing an essential need, to a rural community that is slightly off the beaten track.

Son Phillip said: "Mum had a strong independent and often mischievous nature, and if she decided doing something, then she did it. In her late teens she decided she was going to Amsterdam to visit a boyfriend, Nan and Granddad eventually agreed to a week – so mum went and stopped two. Mum would also laugh that she had one of the first copies of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ in the town.

"With dad's death mum’s character of determination and breaking conventions once more came to the fore, she was going to carry on where dad left off and become a first responder. The fact that she could not drive did not even come into the equation as far as she was concerned and so began 14 years of service.

"The fact she would be half way through a hairdressers appointment or it was three o’clock in the morning never stopped her attending a callout. I would like to especially thank all those who acted as a driver for her, whether they were official or got hijacked off the street.

"In the early days before mum had an official vehicle and driver she would often stop the first available car coming up the High Street in Bishops Castle, where we were living, dressed in her red uniform.

"Sadly shortly after she finished being a First Responder, it was found that breast cancer had returned and this time was much more aggressive. After 18 months of chemotherapy, mum decided to stop treatment and enjoy what time she had left, and a month later passed away peacefully at the Severn Hospice in Shrewsbury."