TRIBUTES have been paid to a fire hero who died this week, aged 83.
Albert Widdrington was front page news in November 1998 when he rescued two young boys from a burning house in Eastmoor.
Mr Widdrington, who was then aged 69 and suffering from angina, pulled his neighbour’s children, aged four and three, to safety after they had been trapped upstairs by a falling ceiling.
The pensioner lifted the children over burning debris before passing one child to another helper and carrying out the other boy himself from the flaming home on Dent Drive.
His brave actions were featured in the Wakefield Express and in other media. His heroism was also recognised by the fire service and a TV awards ceremony attended by then Coronation Street stars Liz Dawn and Gaynor Faye.
But the modest former miner played down his role to reporters, adding: “I looked up the stairs and saw two little boys frightened to death, so what else could I possibly do?
“It was extremely frightening, but you don’t have time to think, you just get on and do it. The ceiling had come down, the carpet was alight and those kids were so scared.”
His family still cherish the press cuttings of the incident and brought them in to the Express to pay tribute to Mr Widdrington who passed away on Monday in Pinderfields Hospital.
Granddaughter Marie Widdrington, 40, said: “He was a hero to the whole family. He taught us all to be strong. I’m proud he was my grandad. He did anything for his family. I just remember as a young girl he was always there for the whole family.”
Mr Widdrington was also well-known locally for his work as a winder at Park Hill Colliery, Eastmoor, and as a machine operator and driver for the Double Two shirt company.
Outside of work he was a big fan of Wakefield Trinity and was friends with star players Neil Fox and Derek “Rocky” Turner.
Widowed Mr Widdrington is survived by his three sons, Steven, Stewart and Darren, eight grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.
His funeral will be held on Thursday on what would have been his 84th birthday. It will be at St Andrew’s Church on Peterson Road at 11.45, followed by cremation at Wakefield Crematorium at 12.40pm.