THE funeral of a Lowestoft firefighter who died during a training exercise at an Olympic venue will take place on Friday in Gorleston, it was announced today.

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Alan Soards, 38, is to have a fire service funeral with full honours, with representatives from every fire and rescue service in the country invited to attend.

Mr Soards, who lived in Oulton, was taking part in a water rescue course, attended by Norfolk and Suffolk firefighters, at the Lee Valley White Water Centre in Hertfordshire on October 2 when he was taken ill.

Three ambulances and two air ambulance teams were called to the scene but attempts by his colleagues and paramedics to resuscitate him failed.

Today, Suffolk fire service announced details of Mr Soards’s funeral at 2pm on Friday at St Andrew’s Church,

Gorleston.

The funeral cortege will form at 1pm at Lowestoft South Fire Station in Stradbroke Road, where Mr Soards was a member of white watch.

At 1.10pm, the duty crew, pallbearers and the chief fire officer will form a guard of honour on the station forecourt and salute as the cortege passes. The coffin will then travel on the back of a turntable ladder fire engine as the cortege is “paced away” to the Stradbroke Road-Tom Crisp Way roundabout, by a piper from Norfolk fire service.

Standard bearers from many of the country’s fire and rescue services, together with firefighters from Suffolk, will form a guard of honour at St Andrew’s church.

The cortege is due to arrive at the church at 1.50pm and the coffin will be carried by pallbearers from Mr Soards’s

watch at Lowestoft South Fire Station before being led by a piper through the guard of honour into the church. Members of Mr Soards’s family will follow.

The service is due to start at 2pm and is expected to last an hour. At 3pm, standard bearers and fire service personnel form a guard of honour and Mr Soards’s coffin will leave the church in a motor hearse. The funeral will be followed by a private service for the family.

Mr Soards, who was unmarried and lived alone, had served with Suffolk fire service for more than 11 years.

Before becoming a full-time firefighter, he was a volunteer crewman with the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston RNLI Lifeboat.

At the time of his death, Suffolk fire service said it was working with Hertfordshire police and the Health and Safety Executive to establish why he had died.

Lee Valley White Water Centre was used during the London 2012 games for canoeing events, but the training exercise that Mr Soards and his colleagues were involved in was taking place on another part of the site.

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