TRIBUTES have been paid to a heroic firefighter who lost his battle with cancer aged 69.
Eric Howson, from Hipperholme, spent more than 30 years with West Yorkshire Fire Service.
He was one of the first crew members to arrive at the devastation of the Bradford City fire in May 1985 and the aftermath of the IRA bomb on the M62 at Chain Bar in 1974.
One of seven siblings, he followed brother Frank into the service. His niece Lisa also later joined the fire brigade.
Eric joined the brigade in 1964 and worked at Sowerby Bridge, Dewsbury, Elland, Brighouse, Cleckheaton and Todmorden. He later became station commander, based at Illingworth.
A fitness fanatic, Eric was also a cornet player with Friendly band.
Sister Nora Gauder said: “He was upright, fairly serious and very active. He had a really high social conscience. He always wanted to help people.”
Eric was involved in charity Crew, a group helping those with cardiac rehabilitation through exercise and walking, based in Brighouse, and had recently become a walk leader. “He lived his life to the absolute full. One day he’d be playing squash, another walking or at the gym. He was always active,” said Nora.
He received a commendation for rescuing two men from a fire in Sowerby Bridge and was given the Duke of Edinburgh’s gold award by Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace in 1962.
“He was very proud of what he has done and said he’d enjoyed all of it,” said another sister, Jean.
Eric is survived by wife Glendale, daughters Michelle and Lyndsey as well as six grandchildren, to who his family say he was devoted.