Tributes for Burnley's 'model' firefighter whose courageous cancer fight was truly inspirational

Warm tributes have been paid to Burnley firefighter Andrew Patefield who has died after a courageous four year battle with cancer.Warm tributes have been paid to Burnley firefighter Andrew Patefield who has died after a courageous four year battle with cancer.
Warm tributes have been paid to Burnley firefighter Andrew Patefield who has died after a courageous four year battle with cancer. | other
A courageous and long serving Burnley firefighter has died four years after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Doctors were astounded at the strength and determination of Andrew Patefield, 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 have described him as 'the most fun, adventorous and caring person you could wish to meet.'

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Affectionately known as 'Patey' Andrew, who was 49, grew up in the Brunshaw area of Burnley and attended St Mary's RC Primary and the former St Theodore's RC High schools.

Andrew Patefield was described by his family as 'caring, fun and adventurous and one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet'Andrew Patefield was described by his family as 'caring, fun and adventurous and one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet'
Andrew Patefield was described by his family as 'caring, fun and adventurous and one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet' | other

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.

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.

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"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.

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“Our thoughts are with his two daughters and his family and friends at this difficult time.”

In 2009 Andrew, who lived in Colne, lost his wife Julie at the age of 38 after she was diagnosed with leukaemia.

She had been recovering from a bone marrow transplant when she contracted a virus and died in Manchester Royal Infirmary.

But she left a tremendous legacy in the form of the Help Julie Campaign. Set up by the family, and colleagues from the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, the campaign inspired more than 3,000 potential bone marrow donors to come forward.

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Andrew's family have thanked Lancashire Fire and Rescue for their help and support and also Pendleside Hospice for what they described as 'fantastic care.'

A relative said: "We are devastated by the loss of Andrew at such a young age.

"He fought this illness with all his strength and will power and he will be sadly missed by all who were fortunate enough to have known him.”

Andrew's funeral will be held on Friday, June 5th, at 11am at St Michael and All Angels Church in Foulridge.

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Due to coronavirus the numbers are limited to 15 people attending the church, however the fire service will be holding one last formal parade for their much loved colleague and friend.

This will take place an hour before the funeral, at 10am, at Burnley Fire station where colleagues will be able to see Andrew 'turn out' to one last mobilisation. White Watch will then escort Andy and the funeral procession to the church.

The hearse will include a floral tribute to 'Patey' with his watch number which was 612.

Family, friends and anyone who knew Andrew will have the opportunity to line the route, while heeding social distance requirements, to pay their last respects.

Andrew's family are also planning to hold a memorial service for him later in the year.

They have also asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Pendleside Hospice in Andrew's memory.