FAMILY, friends and colleagues have paid moving tributes to a ‘model firefighter’ and father-of-two who died last week after losing his battle with cancer.

Andrew Patefield served with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service for more than 20 years, and spent the majority of his career working on white watch at Burnley fire station.

Tragically, Andrew lost his wife Julie to leukaemia in 2009, when she was just 38, and he now leaves two daughters.

Andrew was cared for at Pendleside Hospice before his death and a statement from his heartbroken family read: “Andrew’s family are devastated by his loss at such a young age.

“Andrew fought this illness with all his strength and will power.

“The family would like to thank all the people involved during Andrew’s illness especially Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service who have helped and supported Andrew and his family for years.

“They would also like to thank Pendleside Hospice and all the nurses involved in Andrew’s care which has been fantastic.

“Andrew will be sadly missed by all who were fortunate enough to have known him.”

Colleagues from his crew at Burnley fire station called him a ‘consummate professional’ who took on additional roles and responsibilities and set an example for new recruits.

A statement from his friends at the station said: “As new members of the service joined the watch it was clear to see they looked up to Andrew and saw him as the example they needed to live up to.

“Andrew has been truly inspirational in how he has dealt with this illness.

“The way he has tackled it was, at times, truly astonishing to see.

“His strength, courage and determination to beat it said everything about him as a person. This was all done with positivity that left us all in awe of him.

“One of our last abiding memories of him was when we visited the hospice with the fire engines in the hope we could drive past his window to let him know we were there for him and his family.

“In true Andrew style rather than look from his bedroom window he managed to walk to the front door of the hospital and spend 10 minutes talking with us. That strength will stay with us all forever.”

Chief Fire Officer Justin Johnston called him a ‘model firefighter’.

He said: “Andrew was a much loved and respected colleague.

“Having joined the service in 1997, he served at Burnley Fire Station for most of his career where he was a model firefighter.

“He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his two daughters and his family and friends at this difficult time.”

On Friday, the Lancashire branch of the Fire Brigades Union posted on Twitter: “Today we mourn the loss of another brother taken far too soon - firefighter 612 Andy Patefield.

“Andy fought many battles over the last couple of years.

“A man of strength and integrity, you will be sadly missed brother.

“Love and thoughts with his family, friends and colleagues.”

Crew manager Laura Herdman from Padiham station also tweeted: “Rest easy Patey.

“My thoughts go out to your family, your friends, and your extended family - white watch,”

Neil Hardiman from Blackburn fire station said: “Incredibly sad day hearing that the most fantastic firefighter, Andy Patefield, passed away.

“All at Blackburn and Darwen will remember Andy with fond memories and all our love to Andy’s daughters.”

Mark Woodward from Penwortham fire station, who worked with Andy in his earlier fire service days also posted his condolences on Twitter, saying: “Another brother taken too soon. Rest in eternal peace. My deepest sympathy to his daughters, family, work colleagues and friends.”

Andy’s funeral will be held at 11am on Friday June 5 at St Michael’s and All Angel’s Church, Foulridge.