'Loved beyond words' - Memorial bench for fallen fireman unveiled

On the bench in honour of Christopher Betts

On the bench in honour of Christopher Betts at Wroxham Cemetery were, back row, Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Norfolk Scott Norman, firefighters Phil Bland, Shaun Hearn, Jake Appleton and Wroxham Watch Manager Carl Mills; front row, William’s grandchildren Marek Jeczalik and Bronia Maxim and William Betts - Credit: Malcom Allsop

A firefighter who lost his life in the line of duty will be remembered in the form of a new park bench.

And the first person to sit on the bench, dedicated to Christopher Betts, was his father, William Betts,  aged 93.

A scene from the dedication ceremony of a new bench in memory of firefighter Christopher Betts at Wroxham Cemetery. 

A scene from the dedication ceremony of a new bench in memory of firefighter Christopher Betts at Wroxham Cemetery. - Credit: Malcom Allsop

Christopher Betts, firefighter who died in the line of duty in Hainford, Norfolk, in 1987.

Christopher Betts, firefighter who died in the line of duty in Hainford, Norfolk, in 1987. - Credit: Supplied by the family

At an unveiling ceremony at Wroxham cemetery, Mr Betts said: "It means everything to me.

"I can now sit here and think of Chris. I want to thank everyone who helped make this all come true."

Assistant Chief Fire officer for Norfolk Scott Norman gives the memorial address,

Assistant Chief Fire officer for Norfolk Scott Norman gives the memorial address, at a dedication ceremony of a new bench in memory of firefighter Christopher Betts at Wroxham Cemetery. - Credit: Malcom Allsop

Christopher was fighting a fire in Hainford in the early hours of December 1, 1987 when a chimney collapsed on him and he lost his life - the last Norfolk fireman to have died in the line of duty.

More than 40 friends and relatives as well as seven firefighters were at the dedication ceremony for the inscribed bench.

Photographs on display after the ceremony for the memorial bench to Christopher Betts

Photographs on display after the ceremony for the memorial bench to Christopher Betts - Credit: Malcom Allsop

The firefighters from Wroxham Fire Station used social media to raise £900 to help pay for it, along with contributions from Christopher's family.

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Shaun Hearn, the station's crew manager, said: "We are like a big family in the Fire and Rescue Service, and we support each other."

The memorial bench in with its inscription to Christopher Betts

The memorial bench in with its inscription to Christopher Betts - Credit: Malcom Allsop

Speaking at the unveiling, Scott Norman, assistant chief fire officer for Norfolk, said: "It is important to remember, and not take for granted, just how dangerous this service can be.

"It’s a credit to the crew who worked so hard to bring this bench here.

"It offers a chance to sit and reflect on their colleague Chris as well as the work of the fire service."

Christopher Betts' memorial stone in Wroxham Cemetery with the firefighters wreath

Christopher Betts' memorial stone in Wroxham Cemetery with the firefighters wreath - Credit: Malcom Allsop

A dedication on the bench reads 'Loved beyond words, Fireman Christopher William Betts, who gave his life serving the people of Norfolk.'

The bench was dedicated by the Rev Liz Jump, Rector of the Wroxham Benefice and unveiled by William with the help of Wroxham parish councillor Peter Mantle, who planned the project.

 A wreath was also laid in the cemetery next to Christopher's memorial stone, as is done every year on the anniversary of his death, when local firefighters gather to honour his memory.


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