Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Profiles of the fallen firemen

The families of four part-time firefighters who died while tackling a blaze at a warehouse in Atherstone on Stour, Warwickshire, have paid tribute to them.

Warwickshire's chief fire officer William Brown described all the men as "heroes".


Ashley Stephens who had a three-month-old son, had followed in his father's footsteps by joining Alcester Fire Station in April 2006.

His father Paul is watch manager at the station and has been with the service for 26 years.

Ashley Stephens
Ashley Stephens had also worked as a joiner

As well as working for the fire service, Mr Stephens had been employed by a local joinery company.

His 17-year-old fiancee Emma Crocker and his parents released a statement saying the firefighter had loved his job.

It said: "Ashley was a wonderful loving father, fiance, son and brother and he will always be in our hearts.

"Ashley adored his family and his football and he was an ardent Manchester United follower.

"He lived his life for his family, especially his fiancee Emma and three-month-old son George.

"Ashley was shy and gentle and loved his job in the fire service."


Gym instructor Darren Yates-Badley had worked at Alcester Fire Station for the last five years.

The young father, who had a three-year-old daughter India, met his wife Fay, 24, at Stratford College.

Darren Yates-Badley
Darren Yates-Badley had been married for less than a month

The couple had got married on 6 October this year.

A statement from his wife and parents Mandy and Stephen Baylis described Mr Yates-Badley as their "hero".

It said: "Darren was a larger-than-life character and would speak to and help anyone he met.

"He valued his strong family bond and was closely tied to the area because of his role at the fire service here.

"He loved his role as a firefighter and had just qualified to drive appliances.

"He was a gym instructor, he loved karaoke and he gave up his free time to help other people.

"Darren treated everyone equally and with the same kindness.

"We didn't realise the impact that Darren had on other people's lives and he is our hero."


Ian Reid had joined the fire service in February 2003 and worked at both Rugby and Stratford stations before being promoted to crew manager at Stratford in August 2004.

He had been married for 15 years to wife Julie, who he had met when they both worked in a tax office in Stratford. The couple had an 11-year-old daughter called Sophie.

In his spare time, Mr Reid would coach his daughter at football and never missed a game.

Ian Reid
Ian Reid's daughter described him as a "lovely person"

Sophie said: "My dad would do anything for me and he would take me to football every weekend.

"He was a lovely person and would help me with my homework.

"I'll miss him being around all the time."

Mrs Reid said: "Ian loved the fire service, he would spend so much time at the station and would take up any training opportunity that was on offer.

"He got on well with everyone at the station and he knew many of his colleagues from growing up in Stratford."


John Averis had previously worked as a herdsman and was a member of the National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs.

He had been based at Stratford Fire Station, where he had been since joining the service as a trainee in March 2004.

John Averis
John Averis had joined the fire service as a trainee in 2004

His older brother Paul said Mr Averis had "lived for the fire service".

He said: "John touched a lot of people in his life. My phone has not stopped ringing and none of us realised how many people his life had touched.

"Little John had a large heart and he was courageous.

"Just like his dad, he loved his slippers, and would be straight out the door when his bleeper went, still in his slippers.

"He lived for the fire service and other people always came before himself.

"He was my little brother to everyone else and a big brother to me."

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