Poole firefighter laid to rest

Friends, family and colleagues have been remembering a firefighting Dad from Poole who died alongside his teammate, helping rescue more than 40 people in a tower block blaze in Southampton earlier this month.

Friends, family and colleagues have been remembering a firefighting Dad from Poole who died alongside his teammate, helping rescue more than 40 people in a tower block blaze in Southampton earlier this month.

Hundreds of people, including local residents and fire crews from both Dorset and Hampshire Fire and Rescue, attended the funeral of Jim Shears.

The 35-year-old Dad of two lost his life on the same night as his colleague, 38-year-old Alan Bannon on April 6th, tackling a fire at Shirley Towers in Church Street.

Speaking to the congregation and hundreds gathered outside St George's Church on loud speakers, Hampshire Chief Fire Officer John Bonney saluted both men's heroism:

"James went in with courage and a steely commitment to do his best. And he did just that."

"They bought precious time and safety for the rescuers, for those who also had a job to do, leading frightened, helpless people away from the danger."

Fellow firefighter Richard Sawdon from their base at St. Mary's community fire station echoed his boss's sentiments, adding:

"Jim will never leave Red Watch and Red Watch will always be there to tell Frankie and Ruben what a brave hero their Dad was."

Fighting back emotion, he continued:

"When I look at [them], I can see Jim's sparkling eyes. And I know that same spirit Jim had, lives on in them."

A guard of honour made up of hundreds of firefighters and members of the public lined the streets to watch the funeral cortege pass by.

His family, wearing bright colours, had asked the public to turn out to give him the brightest possible send-off to celebrate his life.

Jim's younger brother, Gary, also paying tribute, told Heart:

"As much as it's a sad day and we're all going to miss Jim, we [wanted] it to be a celebration of his life and his career and what he did.... so we [watned] it to be more of a celebration than comiseration."

Both firemen will be remembered at a special memorial at Winchester Cathedral in July.

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