Anthony Marshall died in the line of duty in 1981
The unveiling ceremony
A red plaque has been unveiled to a Wimbledon firefighter who died when tackling a blaze in the town centre.
The ceremony took place on 28 April near the corner of Gladstone Road close to the Wibbas Down Inn nearby where the fatal incident occurred.
On 30 April 1981, 26-year-old Anthony Marshall was attending a fire at the former Woolwich premises. Aa small blaze had been discovered in the stockroom and the branch had been evacuated. Mr Marshall and two colleagues were damping down the fire when the building collapsed. He left behind his wife Cheryl and 12-month old son John on the day of his first birthday. Arson was strongly suspected as the reason for the fire.
Anthony Marshall with his son John
Tragically, only three days earlier the best man at Mr Marshall’s wedding had been badly burned in a fire he was fighting, receiving injuries he would later die from.
Both Cheryl and John attended the unveiling, as well as the grandchildren of Mr Marshall.
Cheryl Marshall, Anthony’s wife, 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.”
The family of Mr Marshall
Two other firefighters were also trapped and injured in the incident in which Mr Marshall died, but survived.
The Red Plaque scheme aims to commemorate firefighters who died in the line of duty with plaques close to where they died, and is administered by the Fire Brigades Union.
Andy Fullalove, a former Wimbledon firefighter who built a memorial garden for Mr Marshall, Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack, and Fire Brigades Union regional secretary in London Jon Lambe all spoke at the unveiling.
Commenting, Fire Brigades Union general secretary said Matt Wrack said, “As firefighters it is vital we commemorate those who came before us and made the ultimate sacrifice. 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.”
Fire Brigades Union regional secretary in London Jon Lambe said, “As London firefighters we always want to remember those of our number who died in the line of duty. This plaque will have a prominent place in the local community, close to where Mr Marshall died, and will help ensure that this vital piece of history and sacrifice is never forgotten.”
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 rescues service. The lottery can be entered at www.firefighters100lottery.co.uk.
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May 9, 2022