Memorial to Firefighters

A memorial service has been held for two firefighters who lost their lives as they fought a fire in a high rise block of flats.

The widow of a Dorset firefighter, one of two men killed as they battled a blaze in a high-rise block of flats, has spoken at a memorial service held in their honour of her husband's "strength and selflessness''.

Firefighters from around the country joined with family, friends, community and Government leaders at the service held at Winchester Cathedral for Alan Bannon, 38, and James Shears, 35, from Poole, Dorset.

Memorial at Winchester Cathedral

The two colleagues lost their lives as they tackled the fire at Shirley Towers, Southampton, Hampshire, on April 6. Hundreds of firefighters lined the streets for the funerals of the two men held in their respective home towns. Among those who attended the service were the fire minister Bob Neill, chief fire and rescue adviser Sir Ken Knight and local MPs John Denham and Chris
Huhne. The service was led by the Dean, the Very Reverend James Atwell, and Hampshire fire service chaplain the Rev Dr Derek Overfield.

Memorial Stone

Mr Shears's widow, Carla, fought back tears as she said: "Jim had a lot of strength to lend. Jim was strong, brave and calm. He was thoughtful, loving and kind. It was because of all these qualities that Jim died as he did. He was strong enough, brave and calm enough, thoughtful and caring enough with his big selfless heart to go and help those people in danger at Shirley Towers".

His father, Ed Shears, said: "Our son Jim spoke fondly of the bond between his brothers at St Mary's fire station. The friendship, the rivalry, the banter and the mickey-taking. Although we have lost a son we feel we have gained a whole new family and become a part of that bond. Finally to all firefighters, when you go out on your next shout, please be careful.''

Lin Trott, Mr Bannon's sister, said: "I have been trying for ages to think of what I should stand up here and say about my brother. It made me think of what he would have thought of all of this and to be honest I think he would have been surprised that anyone thought he had done anything special, anything that wasn't just his day job.''

Mr Shears, known as Jim and who also had the nickname Britney, was married to Carla and had two sons, Ruben, four, and Frankie, six. Mr Bannon, from Southampton, was married to Charlotte and father to five-year-old Abigail.

Memorial for Firefighter's