The Greatest Sia
The two Hampshire firefighters who died during a blaze at Shirley Towers have been awarded a fire service medal for bravery.
James Shears and Alan Bannon died while fighting a fire at the Southampton tower block in April 2010.
The families of the firefighters were presented with the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service's Meritorious Medal for Gallantry at a private ceremony at St Mary’s fire station in Southampton.
James and Alan’s firefighting helmets and station number lapels were also presented to their families.
Chief Officer John Bonney said: “The Service’s Meritorious Medal is awarded to firefighters who carry out acts of considerable bravery.
“There is no question that this is what was shown by Jim and Alan as they put themselves in harm’s way to ensure the safety of others on that night.
“This award is to formally recognise their courage, dedication and service, and to remember the sacrifice they made.”
Alan’s award and helmet was collected by his daughter Abi, while his station lapel was presented to his mother Margaret.
A statement from the Bannon family said: “We are and always have been very proud of Alan and everything he has done.
“All of Alan’s family and friends know what a dedicated man he was in all aspects of his life and how much he loved living life to the full.
"Alan was a much loved family man who always put others before himself. It was always his ambition to become a firefighter. He loved his job and those he served with on Red Watch, as well as those in the wider fire service family.
“Though this award cannot bring Alan back, it does go some way to recognising the risk that all firefighters put themselves at every day to protect us all.
“It is also something which will allow Abi to remember how brave her Daddy was."
James's medal was presented to his wife Carla and the helmet to his youngest son Ruben. James’s station lapel was collected by his father Ed.
A statement from the Shears family said: “Jim would probably have been a little embarrassed by this award as he never considered himself to be a hero. He just loved doing the job he always wanted to do.
“But he was always a hero to his family – a dedicated father, husband, uncle brother and son - and not a day goes by when we don’t think of him and miss him dearly.
“As with all of Jim’s achievements, we are extremely proud to be presented with this medal for gallantry.
“This award will help to remind us of the selfless nature of his actions at Shirley Towers as he helped to protect the lives of others.”