Exhausted and in deep thought, this figure of a fireman will be a poignant memorial.
The bronze statue will be a tribute to all those firefighters who died in action serving the Greater Manchester brigade. It will be installed at the entrance to a new training centre in Bury which will open later this year.
It has been created by London-based sculptor Douglas Jennings, who also created a widely acclaimed figure of President Barack Obama.
The bronze memorial will be officially unveiled by the family of firefighter Stephen Hunt, 38, who died tackling a blaze in Manchester’s Northern Quarter in July 2013. It will be an emotional moment for Stephen’s mother, Susan Veevers, and stepfather Wilf, who live in the town. Stephen was raised in Whitefield, attending Phillips High School.
Last month, an inquest jury returned a verdict that the father-of-two had been ‘unlawfully killed’ by two 15-year-old girls who deliberately started the fire.
The brigade still has plans for another statue earmarked for the pedestrianised area near Manchester Cathedral.
Jennings is a leading figurative sculptor.
His creations can be seen worldwide from The Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace to high-profile public commissions. He says his approach is ‘sculpting with sensitivity to the human form whether in miniature or large scale bronze.’ A brigade spokeswoman said: “The idea is that the statue will be a place where people can come and remember our fallen firefighters and the families of those who have lost their lives in the line of duty have been involved in the planning of the memorial.”
In September 1999, a fireman from Bury drowned while trying in vain to save the life of a teenage boy. Paul Metcalf, a part-time firefighter based at Ramsbottom, was trying to rescue the 15 year-old from a lake at Holcombe Brook.
He drowned after his safety line became snagged on a branch beneath the water.
In 1996, fireman John Ogden, a dad-oftwo, died after falling out of his engine in Gorton while getting changed on the way to an emergency. He suffered severe head injuries and died in hospital a few days later. An inquest found the locking mechanism on the appliance – which was new – appeared to have shut but had not. As a result a new crew cab safety policy was introduced.