A plaque to commemorate a Wimbledon firefighter who died in the line of duty was unveiled on 28 April, close to the anniversary of his death and close to where the incident took place.
Anthony Marshall was just 26 years of age when he was killed, and left behind a wife, Cheryl, and a one-year-old son, John. He died on the first birthday of his son.
Both Cheryl and John attended the unveiling, as well as the grandchildren of Mr Marshall.
Mr Marshall was killed when a building collapsed in the aftermath of a fire, at the Woolworth’s branch in Wimbledon. The incident took place on 30 April 1981. Arson was suspected as a cause.
Tragically, only three days earlier the best man at Mr Marshall’s wedding had been badly burned in a fire he was fighting, receiving injuries he would later die from.
Cheryl Marshall, Anthony’s wife, said: ‘Tony was full of life, extremely popular and very much a family man. He was loved by everyone who knew him. He was very kind and caring and it was this nature (and the fact that two of his best friends were firemen) that drew him to the job. He wanted to help people. Sadly, his bravery cost him his life on the very day that he should have been celebrating his baby son’s first birthday. He will always be remembered for the love, fun and laughter that he brought into all our lives.’
Two other firefighters were also trapped and injured in the incident in which Mr Marshall died but survived.
The plaque that was unveiled is a Red Plaque. The Red Plaque scheme aims to commemorate firefighters who died in the line of duty with plaques close to where they died, and is administered by the Fire Brigades Union.
Andy Fullalove, a former Wimbledon firefighter who built a memorial garden for Mr Marshall, Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack and Fire Brigades Union regional secretary in London Jon Lambe all spoke at the unveiling.
Commenting, Fire Brigades Union general secretary said Matt Wrack said: ‘As firefighters it is vital we commemorate those who came before us and made the ultimate sacrifice. Whenever a firefighter loses their life in the line of duty it is an absolute tragedy and we are glad we can mark the sacrifice of Mr Marshall in this way. The Fire Brigades Union will continue to work to get Red Plaques laid across the country.’
Fire Brigades Union regional secretary in London Jon Lambe said: ‘As London firefighters we always want to remember those of our number who died in the line of duty. This plaque will have a prominent place in the local community, close to where Mr Marshall died, and will help ensure that this vital piece of history and sacrifice is never forgotten.’
The Red Plaque scheme is funded by the Firefighter 100 lottery, which is also administered by the Fire Brigades Union and aims to raise money for good causes related to the fire and rescues service. The lottery can be entered at www.firefighters100lottery.co.uk