Tributes to a dedicated Chichester firefighter

Robert Blackburn known as Bob
Robert Blackburn known as Bob

THE daughter of a long-serving firefighter who spent much of his career based at Chichester has paid tribute to him as someone who ‘would do anything for anyone’.

Members of West Sussex Fire Service gave a guard of honour at the funeral of Robert Blackburn OBE, held recently, as a mark of respect for more than 30 years of dedicated service.

Mr Blackburn, known as Bob, died on August 29 from a ruptured aneurysm, aged 88.

“Dad would do anything to help anyone, it’s what he did best. He was not a team player, he was a leader,” said Pam Clingham, one of his two daughters.

“He was a very strong personality, having had a hard childhood in Manchester until he went into the RAF to train as a Spitfire fighter pilot for the Japanese war.

“Fortunately the war ended before that and he went as a physical training instructor in the RAF.

“He joined the fire service in 1949 in Lancashire and as his career progressed, he moved down the country via Staffordshire, Horsham, then to Chichester.”

After retiring from the fire service in 1983, Mr Blackburn set up his own fire consultancy business, advising and acting as an expert analyst to the courts.

He was also a special adviser to the then home secretary Willie Whitelaw, work which saw him awarded an OBE.

“Dad’s other loves were his Connemara ponies, which I have now taken over, and his fishing,” Pam said.

“The Connemaras we’ve had since 1970. He was asked to judge at the prestigious Irish Clifden Show twice and was a respected British judge, 
too, judging at the Royal, South of England and Royal Windsor.

“We went every year to Ireland for the show and dad always went on for a week’s fishing after the show, down in Lismore.”