A plaque to commemorate a firefighter who died in the line of duty has been unveiled in Wimbledon this morning, close to the anniversary of his death and close to where the incident took place.
Anthony Marshall was 26 years old when he was killed. He left a wife, Cheryl, and a one-year-old son, John. He died on the day of John’s first birthday.
Both Cheryl and John attended the unveiling today, along with Marshall’s grandchildren.
Marshall was killed when a building collapsed in the aftermath of a fire at the Woolworth’s branch in Wimbledon on April 30, 1981. Arson was suspected as a cause.
The incident in Wimbledon was one of several fires at Woolworths premises in the 1970s and 1980s, with the high combustibility of some furnishings in the stores suspected to be a factor in the strength of the blazes.
Cheryl Marshall said: “Tony was full of life, extremely popular and very much a family man. He was loved by everyone who knew him. He was very kind and caring and it was this nature, and the fact that two of his best friends were firemen, that drew him to the job. He wanted to help people.
“Sadly, his bravery cost him his life on the very day that he should have been celebrating his baby son’s first birthday. He will always be remembered for the love, fun and laughter that he brought into all our lives.”
Two other firefighters were also trapped and injured in the incident which claimed Marshall’s life, but they survived.
The Fire Brigade Union’s Red Plaque scheme aims to commemorate firefighters who have died in the line of duty.
Andy Fullalove, a former Wimbledon firefighter who built a memorial garden for Marshall, Fire Brigades Union national official Riccardo la Torre, and Fire Brigades Union regional secretary in London, Jon Lambe, all spoke at the unveiling.
“As firefighters, it is vital we commemorate those who came before us and made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Matt Wrack, the FBU’s general secretary.
“Whenever a firefighter loses their life in the line of duty it is an absolute tragedy and we are glad we can mark the sacrifice of Mr Marshall in this way.
“The Fire Brigades Union will continue to work to get Red Plaques laid across the country.”
The Red Plaque scheme is funded by the Firefighter 100 Lottery, which is also administered by the Fire Brigades Union and aims to raise money for good causes related to the fire and rescue service.
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