Emotional scenes in Burnley as colleagues send off 'inspirational' firefighter with formal parade
Grieving colleagues, friends and well-wishes paid a poignant tribute at the funeral of Burnley firefighter Andrew Patefield, who died aged just 49 - four years after he was diagnosed with cancer.
Andrew's funeral was held this morning at St Michael and All Angels Church in Foulridge. Due to coronavirus pandemic, the numbers were limited to 15 people attending the church, however, the fire service paid a emotional tribute for their much-loved colleague and friend with a formal parade.
Uniformed colleagues lined the entrance of Burnley Fire Station where friends saw Andrew "turn out" to one last mobilisation. The hearse, which included a floral tribute to "Patey" and his watch number which was 612, was then escorted to the church by two fire engines.
Family, friends and anyone who knew Andrew lined the route outside the station, while heeding social distance requirements, to pay their last respects.
Affectionately known as "Patey" Andrew, grew up in the Brunshaw area of Burnley and attended St Mary's RC Primary and the former St Theodore's RC High schools.
He went into the building trade before joining the fire service in 1997 where he was initially based at Rawtenstall before moving to Burnley where he spent the rest of his career with White watch.
As reported previously in the Burnley Express, doctors were astounded at the strength and determination of Andrew, who saw the disease as a challenge rather than something that would turn his life upside down. He put hours of work into his own treatment and wowed family and friends with his determination to enjoy his life and spend time with his two daughters, who described him as "the most fun, adventurous and caring person you could wish to meet."
Andrew was recognised as a consummate professional which earned him additional roles and responsibilities as an instructor. He became a mentor and role model for new recruits to the service who saw him as an example of someone who they needed to live up to.
Forming lifelong friendships with his colleagues, who became like family, a fellow firefighter said that Andrew had been 'truly inspirational' in how he had dealt with his illness adding: " The way he tackled it was, at times, truly astonishing to see. His strength, courage and determination to beat it said everything about him as a person. This was all done with positivity that left us all in awe of him."
Andrew received a visit from his colleagues while being cared for at Pendleside Hospice and they arrived with the fire engines in the hope they could drive past his window to let both him and his family know they were there for them.
But in true Andrew style, rather than look from his bedroom window, he managed to walk to the front door of the hospice and spend 10 minutes talking with them.
Paying tribute to Andrew, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Chief Fire Officer Justin Johnston, said: “Andrew was a much loved and respected colleague. He was a model firefighter and will be sorely missed.
“Our thoughts are with his two daughters and his family and friends at this difficult time.”
Andrew's family are also planning to hold a memorial service for him later in the year.