Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service
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HUNDREDS of people attended St Ann's Church today, Sunday, July 13, to remember Firefighter Stephen Hunt, who lost his life fighting a fire in Manchester City Centre.
Stephen was part of a team of firefighters responding to a fire in Paul's Hair World in Oldham Street on Saturday, July 13, 2013.
Family, friends, colleagues and the public joined together to mark the anniversary of Stephen's death during a poignant service at 2pm.
The service was led by the Rector of St Ann's The Reverend Nigel Ashworth with tributes to Stephen read by County Fire Officer Steve McGuirk, Stephen's Watch Manager, Neil Helmrich, and his daughter Charlotte Hunt.
Readings were heard by Lord Lieutenant JP Warren Smith, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority Chairman, Councillor David Acton, and Stephen's Step-Father Wilf Veevers.
Stephen's Watch Manager, Neil Helmrich, said: "We have gathered to remember one person Stephen Alan Hunt a man who loved life, loved the fire service, but most importantly loved his family.
"I'd like to say five words from all of Blue Watch Philips Park - he was a good man."
Earlier in the day, firefighters from Philips Park Fire Station marked the anniversary at a private ceremony during which a stone commemorating Stephen's sacrifice was laid in the ground of the station.
The stone was recovered from the building on Oldham Street where Stephen fell and has been restored to create a permanent memorial at the station.
A bench created by students from Manchester College has been placed next to the stone. The bench incorporates firefighting equipment and is the colour of Sweet Williams - flowers of gallantry.
County Fire Officer Steve McGuirk said: "We have been absolutely overwhelmed - the level of public support we have received since Stephen's death has been fantastic.
"On the plaque outside Philip's Park Fire Station there are two names of firefighters who have lost their lives, but thankfully these events are very rare.
"It's a timely reminder that the fire service put their lives on the line for the communities they serve day in and day out."