DEDICATED Brian Dawson would have been proud as his smartly-dressed colleagues formed a guard of honour flanking his coffin yesterday.
Two fire appliances escorted the hearse of former leading firefighter Dawson, 78, of Carnarvon Road, in Gosport, to his funeral service at St Mary’s Church, Alverstoke.
Family, friends and former colleagues all paid tribute to Mr Dawson, who was remembered for his sense of humour and the way he was always smartly dressed.
Speaking ahead of the service, his daughter Paula Milton, 45, said: ‘He loved the fire service – it was his life, with the camaraderie and everything.
‘They’ve been so supportive of us, it’s all very humbling.
‘He always wanted a good send-off bless his heart – so we’re certainly doing that.’
In a moving service, those gathered heard how Mr Dawson had started his working life at 15 with a marine engineer apprenticeship at Camper and Nicholsons.
It was in his early 20s that he joined Auxillary Fire Service and entered the firefighting family.
Decades later he left in 1990 having served 23 years at Gosport fire station, achieving the rank of a leading firefighter – and was a role model to his colleagues.
The Rev Humphrey Prideaux led the service at the church, where Mr Dawson had married his wife Gladys, now 77. Mr Prideaux read out a tribute prepared by Mr Dawson’s family.
In it he told those gathered how Mr Dawson had once saved a budgerigar by giving it the kiss of life after it was overcome by smoke in a fire.
He said: ‘But he also dealt with some very frightening and upsetting fire shouts, risking his life to save others and to protect his colleagues.
‘His family are so very proud of him, and of the time and devotion that he gave to the service.’
Former firefighter Andy Wing 51, of Gosport, worked with Mr Dawson.
He said: ‘Brian was very, very good ... he was very professional.
‘Bonds that you make on the fire ground, when you’re relying on your oppos with your life, they are bonds that carry on through life.
‘You tend to know they’ve always got your back, and for something like this you’ll come out and see them on their way.
‘Most people here know Brian and have a connection with him.’
He added one memorable fire was when Mr Dawson and his men were called to help rescue a woman and her three children from a blaze on Christmas Eve in 1989.
Mr Dawson was born in Copnor in 1935 and died on August 20.
He leaves behind his wife, daughters Paula and Kathryn Dawson, 49, of Gosport, and four grandchildren.